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Behavioral health facility in region receives $10M donation

In response, the SMH health care system plans to name the facility after the family who donated the gift.

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  • | 11:44 a.m. October 22, 2021
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Courtesy. A rendering of the SMH behavioral health facility pays homage to the Cornell family following a $10 million donation.
Courtesy. A rendering of the SMH behavioral health facility pays homage to the Cornell family following a $10 million donation.
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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SARASOTA — Sarasota Memorial Health Care System's new behavioral health facility recently stumbled upon a hefty donation. 

Target Corporation Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell and his wife Martha announced a $10 million donation to support the facility. 

“I have the privilege of leading a team of more than 350,000 people, and have seen firsthand the power of creating a culture that is built on care, prioritizes mental health and wellbeing, and provides resources, space and support for all families,” says Brian Cornell in a press release. “I’ve also recognized the importance of humanizing this topic – eliminating the stigma that discourages some from seeking the support they need, while increasing access to care that places people at the center. I hope this project shines much-needed light on the importance of comprehensive behavioral health care, and spurs others to support this project and others like it across the country.”

David Verinder, SMH president and CEO, and Mason Ayres, Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation president, announced the new facility will be named the Cornell Family Behavioral Health Pavilion in recognition of the gift.

“We’re proud to play a role in the creation of this state-of-the-art behavioral health pavilion, whose centralized approach fills an immense need by providing convenient, comprehensive care under one roof,” says Martha Cornell in the statement. “We know it will change countless lives in Sarasota, a community that has been dear to our family for years, and we hope it inspires change all across the country.”

The pavilion construction is slated to begin early next year. The $65 million project will replace Sarasota Memorial’s 1970s-era behavioral health hospital with a modern 95,000-square-foot facility. 

“When someone is going through a crisis, it can be frightening to go into a facility that looks old and institutional,” says Verinder in the release. “The Cornells’ gift will help transform that experience, ensuring the people of our community have a warm, welcoming place where they can feel safe and get help through what may be the most difficult days of their lives.”

The three-story pavilion will be built on the Sarasota campus with four inpatient units, including a 16-bed geriatric unit, 22-bed child and adolescent unit, 24-bed adult unit and 22-bed acute care unit. The first floor will have therapeutic spaces dedicated for the health system’s expanding outpatient treatment and counseling programs.

“Fortunately, the pandemic has moved more people to talk publicly about their personal challenges, which has encouraged others to get the help they need,” says Ayres. “We are deeply grateful to the Cornells for this generous and life-changing gift. Their passion and vision for this project will touch many in our community who are affected by mental health issues.”

Brian Cornell has several decades of experience in leadership roles at leading retail and consumer-product companies. While his family has worked and lived all over the world, the release states the Cornells’ have deep roots in the area. 



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