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Room with a View: First Patient Admitted to SMH’s new Courtyard Tower

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When 41-year-old Travis Kessler scheduled his total hip replacement, he purposely put it off a week so that he could recover on the 9th floor of Sarasota Memorial’s new Courtyard Tower. 

But it wasn’t until he was wheeled in from recovery and greeted by a sea of smiling faces and bouquet of roses that he realized he was the very first patient admitted to the patient care tower. The orthopedic unit, which tops the 9-story tower, was the first unit to open Sept. 9. 

“I like this hospital and wouldn’t have considered going anywhere else ... but when I heard the tower was opening, I decided to put my surgery off a week, and wow, I'm  glad I did," said Kessler as he relaxed in a spacious private room the day after surgery. "Everything has been perfect, and you can’t beat the view –  from my bed, I can see both the ocean and the bay.”

Special Moments

SMH's Courtyard Tower
After five years of construction, Sarasota Memorial completed its main campus rejuvenation in September and officially opened its new Courtyard Tower. On Sept. 9, the first patient was admitted to the new ninth floor orthopedic unit just before 9 am. Nearly two dozen more patients were admitted by afternoon.

Travis Kessler
Travis Kessler, 41, didn't realize he was the first patient admitted to the new Courtyard Tower until he was wheeled in from recovery following hip replacement surgery and greeted by a sea of smiling faces just before 9 am the morning of Sept. 9. From left, Orthopedic Surgeon Edward Stolarski, MD, stands with Travis, SMH orthopedic nurse Maria Tepe, RN ONC and Dr. Stolarski's Physician Assistant James Dellavecchia, PA-C

SMH Volunteers
SMH Auxiliary Volunteers Nancy Lyon and Kathie Smith delivered flowers and special cards to two dozen patients admitted to the new Courtyard Tower orthopedic unit on opening day.

Kessler’s surgery started bright and early that morning. His orthopedic surgeon, Edward Stolarski, MD, performed Kessler's joint replacement using a muscle-sparing anterior approach in just under an hour. After spending a short time in recovery, Kessler remembers an unusually warm welcome from staff as they helped settle him in Room 901. Although still somewhat groggy, he recalled it was an exciting moment for staff too. They presented him with a dozen yellow roses, a fluffy bathrobe embroidered with the SMH logo and several other small keepsakes to commemorate his #1 status.

By that afternoon, the highest level of the Courtyard Tower was filled with two dozen additional firsts – 19 more orthopedic patients who had joint replacement surgery that morning were admitted to the new unit that morning; four others recovering from prior days' surgery in the old unit were moved into the new one that afternoon. Each received a special card and flowers letting them know they were the first group of patients admitted to the tower's orthopedic unit on opening day. 

When Dr. Stolarski stopped in to see Kessler and several other patients he operated on that morning, he was pleased with what he saw.  Each was resting comfortably in their own room with large windows and expansive views of Sarasota's waterfront and cityscape. The rooms were awash in natural light, with plenty of space for visiting family members or friends, soothing colors and many comforts of home – flat screen TVs, free wireless internet access, a comfortable futon that folded down to a double bed and private alcove for overnight guests.

“I’ve always been impressed by Sarasota Memorial because of the expertise of its staff – from the surgical nurses and techs who help me in the operating room to the orthopedic nurses and rehabilitation therapists who care for my patients before and after surgery," Dr. Stolarski said. "It's the experience of the team and their specialized skills that help achieve the very best possible outcomes. But now it's even better ... the new tower offers such a warm, healing environment. Why would you want to go anywhere else?”

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