Sarasota Memorial Launches $250 Million Campus Improvement Plan
SARASOTA—In late January, Sarasota Memorial Hospital launched its most ambitious construction project in more than half a century when community leaders gathered on the site of a $250 million campus improvement project that has created more than 500 jobs in the community.
Hospital staff, doctors, volunteers and philanthropists also participated in the “breaking ground” event, where models and the actual construction footprint of the new Courtyard Tower were unveiled.
There were no golden shovels, nor grip-and-grin photo sessions. Rather, as crews remained busy laying the foundation and erecting concrete columns with a 200-ton crane and concrete pump trucks, the group celebrated the history of the community’s only not-for-profit and only public hospital.
“It's not every day you build something of this magnitude,” said Sarasota Memorial CEO Gwen MacKenzie.
The nine-story building being constructed will replace the oldest wings of the hospital, adding more private rooms, a new courtyard entrance and redesigned lobby to facilitate and ease visitor traffic flow. The new tower was designed with advanced hurricane proofing material, patient-centered amenities and advanced technology infrastructure.
“Despite a challenging economy, the hospital has managed to improve its financial performance in recent years and is reinvesting those profits into a new facility built with the latest patient amenities, technology and safety features,” said MacKenzie.
Improved clinical features will include laptop stations built into every room as part of the hospital-wide electronic health records (EHR) system so that healthcare providers won’t need to leave the patients’ bedside to order tests and input chart data. To leave floor space and foot traffic clear, medical equipment and monitors will be suspended from the ceiling. Newborn beds will be equipped with special tools to resuscitate infants in emergency situations.
Extra care has been taken into the design of each patient room, from warm colors to oversized windows. Flat screen TVs and wireless Internet will be standard in every patient room, along with comfortable futons for overnight visitors. Electronic infrastructure and life-saving equipment will be cloaked by custom cabinetry.
The campus improvement plan also calls for expanding the hospital’s surgery suites and Critical Care Center and constructing a pedestrian bridge connecting the south parking garage to the Critical Care Center. The upper levels of the new tower will house the hospital’s cardiovascular and orthopedics units, medical-surgical unit, labor and delivery suites and a 32-bed expanded NICU.
The expansion is a fitting tribute to the founders of Sarasota Memorial, whom legend has it involved a group of local women who raised $40,000 to build the community’s first modern hospital. “They were so determined that no businessman dared venture down Main Street without first pulling his pockets inside out to make a public declaration he had no more money to give the hospital fund,” according to historical records of the time.
Since the modest 32-bed facility opened on Nov. 2, 1925, it has been transformed into an 806-bed acute care hospital caring for more than 700,000 patients annually. The comprehensive medical and referral center has been recognized nationally as one of the safest places for healthcare with superior patient outcomes. Its continuum of outpatient services—from urgent care walk-in clinics and physician groups, laboratory and diagnostic imaging centers to home health and short- and long-term skilled nursing and rehabilitation—help prevent hospitalizations and reduce readmissions.
“Despite its growth, Sarasota Memorial has remained true to its founding mission–to be the safety net of care for the people in this community,” said MacKenzie. “It remains the only hospital in the county delivering ‘mission’ services–costly care that other local hospitals have scaled back or eliminated completely, such as maternity, neonatal intensive care, pediatrics, psychiatric care for patients of all ages and the full range of 24/7 emergency specialty services. And it continues to provide the majority of hospital care to Medicaid and uninsured patients in Sarasota County.”
Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation Inc.—the independent charitable organization that supports the hospital—and community donations provide much of the funding for Sarasota Memorial’s specialized and technologically advanced equipment.
About 7 percent of Sarasota Memorial’s operating income is derived from ad valorem taxes. That support has helped the hospital maintain unprofitable “mission” services that other area for-profit hospitals have eliminated.
“That’s the true value of a public hospital,” said Parlane Reid, MD, Sarasota Memorial’s chief medical officer. “The ‘shareholders’ we work to satisfy aren’t from Wall Street. They’re the people who live and work and receive their medical care in this community. And at the end of the day, the end of the quarter, the end of the year, every penny of Sarasota Memorial’s earnings is re-invested in patient care, technology and services to ensure the people of our community receive the best care available in the nation.”
The phased construction project, which is being financed primarily through the bond market, philanthropy and operating profits re-invested into the hospital’s capital budget, should be completed in 2013.