Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is among the largest public health systems in the state of Florida, offering specialties in heart, vascular, neuroscience, and cancer services, in addition to a far-reaching network of outpatient, long-term care, and rehabilitation centers and programs. That said, it is also one of Sarasota County’s largest employers, with over 5,000 employees, 900 physicians, and 600 volunteers.
There are many facets to Sarasota Memorial, which was founded in 1925 and is governed by a nine-member elected Sarasota County Public Hospital Board. This is one of the only politically-elected public boards where members serve on a volunteer basis, at no cost, weighing in on major issues such as overall hospital function, its operations and challenges, real estate acquisitions and expansions, and more. Plymouth Harbor residents have served as members on this board, including John de Jongh and Tom Towler. Tom served on the board for more than nine years and resigned in January 2016. John, who has been actively involved with Sarasota Memorial and Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, Inc., for many years, was appointed to fill Tom’s vacant at-large seat and served for one year.
Sarasota Memorial also depends on its hospital volunteers, who are given a variety of assignments, usually once per week on a four-hour shift basis. Resident Nancy Lyon has been a volunteer for nearly 20 years in many different capacities, alongside Tom Towler who volunteered from 1991 up until last year. Additionally, Alida de Jongh became involved several years ago, formerly working in the gift shop and now serving in the dispatch office. “We’re assigned jobs throughout the hospital, so we’re walking a lot,” Alida says. “But we’re so glad to help because it frees up the nurses for the more important jobs they need to be doing.”
Another element, mentioned previously, is the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation. Established in 1976 as an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, the Foundation was formed to help raise and distribute funds to improve programs, education, and technological advancements. As such, the Healthcare Foundation may receive gifts, grants, and bequests for restricted or unrestricted funds, and expends those funds for equipment, clinical studies, research, training, education programs, and capital improvements. Resident Bill Stanford has worked with the Healthcare Foundation for close to 20 years. He currently sits on the Foundation’s Board of Trustees as Vice-Chair and formerly served as Treasurer and Chair. John de Jongh now serves on the Healthcare Foundation’s marketing and development committee, and Tom Towler also served on the board of the Foundation for nine years.
Furthermore, Sarasota Memorial’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) is responsible for the ongoing review of research conducted at the hospital and protecting the rights of those who volunteer to participate in that research. It is guided by the principles set forth in the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research report, and IRB members are appointed by the President/CEO of Sarasota Memorial. Members include physicians, pharmacists, nurses, community members, legal counsel, and hospital employees. Residents Tom Towler and Barbara Balaban have served as community representatives of the IRB.
To learn more about the Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, you may visit www.smh.com.