SMH-Venice begins emergency and surgical care expansion to meet growing demand in South County

$90-million project expected to be completed in December 2024

This is a rendering of the new ER-OR facility at SMH-Venice. Image courtesy Sarasota Memorial Health Care System

With pre-construction work on its Emergency Room-Operating Room (ER-OR) expansion nearing completion, Sarasota Memorial Hospital-Venice is poised to kick off construction, leaders of the health care system announced this week.

“Last week, crews began preparing the north/west wall of the 28-bed Emergency Care Center (ECC) for the expansion,” a news release notes. “Workers are reframing the existing interior wall to create a safe zone for the exterior wall demolition and construction of the 30,000-square-foot expansion,” the release adds.

The $90-million project, which is expected to be complete in December 2024, “will expand the hospital’s emergency care and surgical capacity to help meet the pressing healthcare needs” in South County, the release points out.

Hospital staff reconfigured the ECC triage and lobby waiting area to help with operational flow, but no changes were necessary in regard to the walk-in or ambulance entrances or the helicopter landing pad, “which are located a safe distance from the construction zone,” the release says.

“The initial demolition/construction is expected to last four months,” the release adds. “Work will be scheduled in phases, so that no more than one to two emergency rooms will be closed at any one time,” the release explains. “Similar buffering will protect the building’s second floor surgical suites,” which are located far enough away that no rooms will need to be close because of the construction, the release continues. “Most of the work planned on the second floor will take place at night to minimize construction noise during the day,” the release says.

After the exterior wall is down, there should be no obvious impact on patient flow or operations within the hospital, SMH-Venice Campus President Sharon Roush noted in the release.

“It is an active construction site, so some noise from heavy equipment and power tools is inevitable,” Roush said. “But we are working closely with our contractors and implementing a number of soundproofing measures to help block noise from entering the building.”

“SMH-Venice reached full capacity within a week of opening in November 2021,” the release points out. The Sarasota County Public Hospital Board approved adding a third patient care tower to SMH-Venice prior to its opening to help meet the demand for more hospital beds in South County, the release notes. As volumes continued to rise, partly as a result of “the unexpected and abrupt closure of ShorePoint Health-Venice in the summer of 2022,” the release explains, the Hospital Board approved the ER-OR expansion and related projects.

Emergency care visits at SMH-Venice have exceeded projections by 30% and are expected to double over the next 10 years, the release notes. The ER expansion underway will increase the number of ECC exam rooms from 28 to 62, including two additional resuscitation rooms, for a total of four, the release says. Diagnostic capabilities also will be expanded, the release notes, with additional radiology rooms and space for a new CT scanner in the ECC. “To meet higher than expected surgery volumes, SMH-Venice is increasing its number of surgical suites from six to eight by the end of this year, and creating space for eight more ORs in the future,” the release adds.

When it opens in 2024, the five-story patient care tower under construction will double the hospital’s capacity from 110 private patient rooms to 212, the release notes. The tower will open in phases, starting in April 2024 with the fourth and fifth floors, each with 34 patient rooms; the second floor, with 34 more patient rooms, should be open by the end of that year. “The third floor is dedicated to mechanical space, while the first floor will be built to accommodate future needs,” the release explains.