Hope Builds: SMH Celebrates Oncology Tower Construction Milestone

Thursday, October 15, 2020




SARASOTA, Fla. — Despite challenges to supply chains and uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sarasota Memorial’s new oncology tower has crested its highest point — 233 feet — a construction milestone SMH leaders celebrated this week with inspiring messages of hope.

The 8-story oncology tower on Sarasota Memorial’s main campus reached its halfway point in construction this summer, but without fanfare or the traditional “topping out” ceremony due to the pandemic. As work intensified on the inside of the building this week, dozens of hospital staff members, construction workers and others dedicated to the project have taken turns inscribing messages of hope on a banner attached to a concrete wall in the tower lobby. Soon, the banner will be sealed by a sheet of drywall and become a permanent part of the building. 

“We wanted to recognize the significance of this project in a meaningful way,” said Sarasota Memorial Chief Operating Officer Lorrie Liang. “The messages people have shared do that in a very moving and personal way. Their words honor loved ones and friends who have battled cancer in the past and offer healing wishes for those fighting cancer today or in the future.”

The wall-signing also recognizes the more than 250 construction professionals who have been laboring through months of rain, extreme heat, and the many challenges and uncertainties of this pandemic to transform Sarasota Memorial’s vision into reality. General Contractor Brasfield & Gorrie noted its crews have worked 468 days and 441,250 collective hours since site preparation began in February 2019. The teams remain busy working on exterior walls and windows, framing interior rooms and spaces, and installing electrical, mechanical, medical gas and plumbing systems in the 176,000+-square-foot facility.

Slated to open in the fall of 2021, the tower is the cornerstone of Sarasota Memorial’s Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute. The tower will have 56 private inpatient suites dedicated to cancer treatment and recovery, the latest treatment and surgical technology, 9 new operating rooms, and a full array of patient navigation, counseling and support services. A rooftop café will crown the tower. 

From the ground up, the Jellison Cancer Institute is designed to deliver the best possible clinical outcomes and patient experiences in state-of-the-art facilities close to home. Along with the new Radiation Oncology Center off University Parkway, the tower is part of Sarasota Memorial’s expanding center of excellence. Once the tower is complete, SMH plans to begin work on a cancer care pavilion across the street that will offer an array of outpatient services. 

As he signed the wall, Sarasota oncologist Richard Brown, MD, who serves as medical director of the Jellison Cancer Institute, was excited about the pivotal progress being made, not just on the building, but also on the expanding programs. 

“That’s the impetus behind Sarasota Memorial’s Cancer Institute,” said Dr. Brown, “ensuring our patients have access to the full range of cancer specialists and subspecialists, and the best therapies and technologies to treat and beat their cancer – in their own community, with people and programs supporting and guiding them through the significant challenges of their cancer experience.”

About Sarasota Memorial’s Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute

The Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute is committed to providing our community and visitors with convenient access to comprehensive, coordinated and collaborative cancer care. Services cover the entire continuum of oncology care — from prevention, screening and diagnosis to treatment, clinical trials, and lifetime follow-up, survivorship care and support. To bring its vision of world-class cancer care close to home, the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board has invested more than $250 million in the developing Cancer Institute, the cornerstone of which is an 8-story oncology tower (opening in Fall 2021) on the hospital main campus. Along with our new Radiation Oncology Center off University Parkway, the tower is part of the institute’s expanding center of excellence. For more information about cancer care services at SMH, visit smh.com/cancer.