If you’re having a baby or planning for a pregnancy, did you know there’s only one hospital in Sarasota County that delivers babies?
If you get into a car accident or have a nasty fall, did you know there’s only one hospital in Sarasota County with a trauma center?
That hospital is Sarasota Memorial. As the region’s only public, not-for-profit health system, Sarasota Memorial provides a full range of essential, highly specialized services that many other local hospitals do not.
That means if you have a sick newborn or child, you’ll find the county’s only neonatal intensive care unit and pediatric department at SMH-Sarasota. If you or a family member are facing mental health issues, SMH is the only hospital in Sarasota that provides inpatient behavioral health care to patients of all ages.
The health system offers a full range of vital services because it is owned and operated by the community it serves.
In comparison, other hospitals in the Sarasota-Manatee-Charlotte region are investor-owned and governed by distant corporate headquarters, with the community having little say in their oversight and operations.
Stepping Up When Other Hospitals Shut Down
For example, in the Fall of 2022, Community Health Systems, a private for-profit hospital chain based in Tennessee, abruptly closed its 312-bed ShorePoint hospital located on Venice island. When Sarasota Memorial learned of the looming closure shortly before the ShorePoint hospital shut down, SMH leaders began taking aggressive steps to prepare for the increased number of patients at SMH-Venice. Those measures included reconfiguring space to increase capacity, hiring additional staff, and doing everything possible to expedite construction of a new 102-bed patient care tower and ER/surgery expansion.
When Hurricane Ian struck just a few weeks after ShorePoint Venice closed, SMH-Sarasota and SMH-Venice were two of only a few hospitals in the southwest Florida region that remained fully open and operational before, during and after the storm. Both SMH campuses — and our 9,000-member workforce, which is the largest in the region — played a critical role in managing the enormous influx of patients seeking care in Ian’s aftermath.
“As a public health system, we have a mission and obligation to fill gaps in care,” said CEO David Verinder. “We’ve been faithfully serving the community for nearly 100 years, and we will never pull up stakes and abandon our patients and the community, as others have done.”
As a public institution, Sarasota Memorial also meets strict requirements regarding its finances, governance, transparency and taxing authority. Like all city and county governments and the School Board, the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board sets a tax rate for county property owners annually in a transparent process. Tax hearings are open to the public and advertised ahead of time. While tax revenues make up only about 5 percent of annual revenues, they provide vital support for top-quality, safety-net care that meets the evolving needs of patients.
Investment in the Community
Because of its unwavering commitment to the community and good stewardship of financial resources, Sarasota Memorial was recently able to embark on several of the most transformative projects in its 98-year history, investing in new world-class facilities, advanced technology and the specialists and staff needed to address vital health care needs in our growing community.
Amid the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic, Sarasota Memorial opened SMH-Venice in November of 2021 to improve south county’s access to top-quality care. That same month, the health system opened an oncology and surgical tower on its Sarasota campus to ensure that cancer patients wouldn’t need to leave the area to receive advanced oncology care. In early 2022, the health system began construction of a new, state-of-the-art behavioral health pavilion that will replace an aged facility.
Sarasota Memorial also is moving forward with plans to build a new hospital in North Port and develop a comprehensive medical campus in Wellen Park to meet south Sarasota County’s increased demand for care.
“Our entire team is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care throughout the region, now and for decades to come,” said Verinder.