Sarasota Memorial honors more than 700 employees for milestone work anniversaries

OB/GYN perinatal sonographer Pittenger the guest of honor at April 11 celebration, as she has served patients for 45 years

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System has honored more than 700 employees celebrating milestone work anniversaries this year, “including 123 longtime staffers achieving 20, 30, 40 and even 45 years of service,” the system has announced.

“With more than 9,000 employees, the community-owned health system is Sarasota County’s largest employer,” a news release explains. “It has been repeatedly recognized for creating a work environment and culture that fosters a team of committed, highly engaged staff,” the release notes.

“Our people are our most important resource, and we can’t thank them enough for their years of hard work,”  said Sarasota Memorial CEO David Verinder, in the release.

Verinder recognized some of the longest serving employees during the April 17 hospital board meeting, the release says.

“Their diligence, dedication and invaluable experience have helped Sarasota Memorial become the top-notch system it is today,” he added in the release.

“OB/GYN [obstetrics/gynecology] perinatal sonographer Barbara Pittenger, who has served Sarasota Memorial patients for 45 years, was the guest of honor at the health system’s annual service anniversary celebration,” which was conducted on April 11, the release continues. “The health system also recognized a group of five employees marking 40 years of service; 12 celebrating 35 years of service; 15 celebrating 30 years; 30 celebrating 25 years; 60 celebrating 20 years; 97 celebrating 15 years; 130 celebrating 10 years and 381 employees celebrating 5 years,” the release points out.

“Affectionately known as Bip, Pittenger started working at SMH as an X-ray tech in 1977,” the release continues. Within a few years, it says, she completed the training necessary to become a perinatal sonographer, “specializing in ultrasound exams for high-risk pregnancies. She eventually worked her way from the hospital’s radiology department to Sarasota Memorial’s First Physicians Group OB/GYN
practice,” the release notes.

“Colleagues and leaders shared many congratulatory comments, recognizing Bip for the skilled and compassionate care she gives to patients and for the support and insights she shares with teammates,” the release says. One of Pittenger’s colleagues, Dr. Kathryn Gard, was a medical student when the two first worked together, the release points out.

“She had been taking care of patients and pregnant women since before I was born!” Gard, an obstetrician/gynecologist, said of Pittenger in the release. “She is a true pioneer. Her depth of care both personally and professionally knows no bounds.”

During the service anniversary celebration last year, the release continues, Sarasota Memorial’s longest-serving employee, Lenora “Nori” Yoder, was honored for 50 years of service. “A lab tech in the microbiology department, she had postponed retirement to support [Sarasota Memorial] staff and the community through multiple surges of the pandemic, including the deadly Delta wave,” the release says.

“Sarasota Memorial’s unwavering focus on employee satisfaction and retention is key to the health system’s strong clinical outcomes, reputation and operational performance,” said SMH board Chair Tramm Hudson in the release.

“During the physically and emotionally draining Delta wave,” the release adds, “Hudson noted that staff still took time to praise SMH in a Gallup survey that summer.” The results earned SMH an Exceptional Workplace Award, recognition “shared by only 41 organizations across the world,” the release points out.

“In announcing the 2022 award,” the release notes, “Gallup commended SMH for its ‘resiliency, determination and commitment to making their people a priority during another unprecedented year.’ ”