Inside Sarasota Memorial’s expansion

Contributing Writer

On Saturday, September 7, 2013 Sarasota Memorial Hospital,  Sarasota’s non profit community hospital, invited the community to share in the much awaited opening of the 9 story patient care tower and courtyard.

Festivities began at 9 a.m. and continued through 2 p.m. with tours of floors 4-9 Labor and Delivery, expanded  Neonatal Intensive Care Unit NICU and Mother Baby suites with spacious Labor and Delivery rooms, Cardiac Progressive, Cardiac Acute, and Orthopedics (total joint center). Special children’s activities and refreshments were held in EPIC (Employee Partners in Caring) Park.

This beautifully designed outdoor space for relaxation and healing was funded by Sarasota Memorial Hospital employee donations. Families and guests were greeted by colorful clowns making balloon animals and the Amazing Spiderman, also paid a visit.

Everyone had an opportunity to meet Ginger, a Golden Retriever.  She is part of the hospital pet therapy program that takes place every Thursday.  With volunteers, Ginger visits patients in various parts of the hospital, hoping to put a smile on the faces of those she meets.

At 10:30 a.m. the exquisitely designed courtyard filled with sunshine and guests and the welcoming ceremony began with the Sarasota Military Academy Color Guard. The National Anthem was then performed by student violinist, Gracie Cespedes. Opening remarks were made by Margaret Wise, Board of Trustees Chairwoman Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation Inc, Alex Quarles, President and CEO Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation Inc., and Gwen MacKenzie, President and CEO Sarasota Memorial Health Care System.

Founded in 1925, Sarasota Memorial Hospital has grown with public support to a 806 bed regional medical center, 2nd largest acute care public hospital in Florida and the 10th busiest orthopedic hospital in the state. Sarasota Memorial Hospital is one of Florida’s largest employers with over 4,000 staff members, 802 physicians, and 1,000 volunteers.  It is governed by a nine member elected Sarasota County Hospital Board.

With the generous support of the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation Inc. tens of millions of dollars has been provided to the hospital since 1976 and funding has been raised for this new much needed addition to Sarasota Memorial Hospital.  Donor opportunities have included the purchasing of trees, benches, private rooms, and  funding hospital wings.  Longboat Key residents Lou and Sandra Levy contributed  to Longboat Blvd located in the main courtyard.  Mr. Levy is also treasurer of the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation.  The courtyard has become a favorite area for volunteers, staff, and patients for it is a place to relax outdoors in a healing masterfully designed environment.  In the main lobby, an artistic donor glass wall is located, displaying the names of those who have contributed.  Additional donor naming opportunities are available throughout the hospital and lobby and contributions will continue to assist in supporting the Foundation’s efforts. On October 17, 2013 “Key to the Cure” will be held at Saks 5th AVe.  The ticket price will be $75.00.  This Foundation sponsored fundraiser will be a kickoff to a four day shopping event with 2% of purchases going to Sarasota Memorial Hospital for women’s cancer care programs.

Original art by local Florida artists is displayed throughout the lobby, new 1700 South Cafe, as well as the cardiac, orthopedic, and labor and delivery floors. The 1700 South Cafe  is located in the new Tower and provides a comfortable warm friendly environment to enjoy a bite to eat.

“This is about community.  The project has been embraced by the community in so many ways.  We are grateful for this”, remarked Gwen MacKenzie, President & CEO of Sarasota Memorial Health Care System.  Public support for the hospital and its mission has been vital for all phases of the building of the Courtyard Tower and new entrance.

The nine floor  220 bed Tower replaces some of the oldest areas of the hospital, which were built in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Skanska-USA-Bld Tampa handled the construction of the $250 million dollar Courtyard Tower and new hospital entrance with Gresham, Smith and Partners, providing the architects and engineers of the Courtyard Tower project.  Revenue Bonds, operating income, and private donations funded the cost of this invaluable asset to the community, making it possible to provide quality healthcare in a state of-the-art-facility.  Architects on the project worked with input from medical staff and community to design the building, surgical and patient rooms, and lobby areas that are technologically advanced, efficient, safe, and comfortable. “This is a tribute of how the whole community loves and cares for each other”, remarked Sarasota Mayor Shannon Snyder.

The three entrances to the hospital are color coded to indicate yellow for main entrance, blue for surgery entrance, and red for emergency with a canopy to protect individuals from inclement weather. The approach and drop off to these entrances is designed similar to an airport and the important Emergency entrance has its own designated lane to avoid interference with traffic flow.

The hospital is equipped with innovative technology, including improved clinical systems and wireless access-state of the art information systems and electronic medical records, lap top stations located in each room, medical equipment and monitors integrated into the ceiling and boom suspension freeing up floor space, “Smart pumps” to add an extra layer of safety to medication administration, the Central Energy Center to provide critical power and life supporting utilities to the hospital in the event of an outage. 70 percent of the  courtyard Tower’s rooms are private and include  patient -friendly, patient safe design amenities.  The latest hurricane proofing possible has been incorporated in the design to ensure continued patient care  should a storm occur.

Whether you visit Sarasota Memorial Hospital Courtyard Tower as a patient or visitor, you can rest assure that every possible improvement in delivering quality care to the community has been evaluated and implemented.

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