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Breaking New Ground in Patient Care

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Gwen Mackenzie and Mayor Kelly Kirschner

Sarasota Mayor Kelly Kirschner and Sarasota Memorial CEO Gwen MacKenzie discuss the impact the construction project will have on the hospital, the community and the people who live and work here at a special Breaking Ground ceremony on Thursday.

Today marked a historical milestone for Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, as staff, doctors, volunteers, philanthropists and others in the community gathered for the official “Breaking Ground” ceremony of its new Courtyard Tower.

The cornerstone of a $250 million transformation now under way at the public hospital’s main campus, the nine-story patient tower will replace the oldest wings of the hospital, adding more private rooms, a new courtyard entrance and state-of-the art facilities for patients, physicians and staff.

With a 200-ton crane, forklifts, concrete pump truck and construction crew working in the background, donors, doctors and dignitaries celebrated the hospital’s 85-year past while watching its future unfold. Crews remained busy laying the foundation and erecting concrete columns from the ground to the fourth floor. During the ceremony, Sarasota Memorial CEO Gwen MacKenzie, Sarasota Mayor Kelly Kirschner and others discussed the impact the project will have on the hospital, the community and the people who live and work here.

"This project will have an enormous impact on the community in so many areas - perhaps most importantly for right now, the construction is giving the Sarasota economy a needed shot in the arm while bringing vital facilities up to 21st century benchmarks of health care,” said Sarasota Memorial CEO Gwen MacKenzie. “And during these uncertain times, we’re proud that Sarasota Memorial continues to remain a vital economic driver for our region.”

The construction project – the largest at the hospital in half a century – is providing more than 500 new construction jobs. Whenever possible, preference is given to local subcontractors and workers, MacKenzie said. “We know it will be a source of pride for our local construction folks to come into the new tower in future years ... if they need care themselves, they can relate to what they built with their own two hands.”

While the hospital's priority is the function of the new facility and ensuring it withstands hurricane-force winds, the new Courtyard Tower has been designed with a keen eye on comfort and safety, creating an aesthetically pleasing, healing environment for patients, physicians and staff. In addition to patient amenities, improved clinical features include: laptop stations built into every room, so that doctors and nurses can enter their progress notes and prescribe tests and treatments electronically without leaving their patients’ bedsides; medical equipment and monitors suspended from the ceiling, leaving floor space and foot traffic clear; newborn beds equipped with special tools to resuscitate babies in emergency situations, so clinicians don’t have to waste precious seconds wheeling in rescue carts and equipment – to name just a few.

The project is expected to be completed in 2013. The hospital financed $150 million of the project through bonds and the rest through philanthropy and operating profits reserved from previous years.

Watch Us Grow
View construction updates and photos on Sarasota Memorial’s campus improvement blog and at

Watch videos about the groundbreaking below.

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