Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Sarasota Memorial's Venice Plan Is Sound | Move Consistent with Public Hospital's Mission

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Sarasota Memorial's Venice Plan Is Sound | Move Consistent with Public Hospital's Mission

Article excerpt

OUR VIEW

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System's announcement Saturday that it would seek state approval to build a hospital in Venice was unexpected but, in light of long-term trends and recent developments, not a surprise.

As hospital officials stated in a full-page advertisement in the Herald-Tribune, expanding medical services in Venice and North Port is a long-stated goal of the publicly owned hospital and its associated entities. In 2009, the system opened an emergency room and care center in North Port, fulfilling one of the city's highest priorities. In October 2013, it opened an Urgent Care Center and Health Center on U.S. 41 Bypass in Venice. Those moves were consistent with the system's plan to methodically expand throughout the county it is charged to serve.

In 2005, the health-care system purchased 65 acres in southern Sarasota County, near the Laurel Road-Interstate 75 interchange, with plans for a primary- and outpatient-care facility. The recession, among other factors, put that project on hold. On Saturday, the hospital's chief executive and board chairwoman announced the plan to build a community hospital, with about 200 beds -- most likely on the interchange property. The previous day, SMH filed a preliminary application with the state for a "Certificate of Need," a process that seeks public- and private- sector input and examines patient demands.

These reasons support the move:

1. In a 2012 Herald-Tribune guest column, Public Hospital Board member Richard Merritt wrote that, in the previous year, more than 100,000 patients who lived in Venice and south county visited the main campus of Sarasota Memorial Hospital for inpatient, outpatient and emergency-room services. Population growth in south county has increased since then: More than half of the county's residents live south of the Osprey community.

2. The governing body that oversees nonprofit Sarasota Memorial and its affiliates is elected countywide, levies a tax countywide and is charged with serving patients countywide. …

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