A Sarasota couple, Jerry and Karen Kolschowsky, has donated $25 million to Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, with the money geared toward innovation, education and research.
The gift is through the Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky Foundation, according to a statement. The foundation, based in Downers Grove, Illinois, outside Chicago, had $38 million in assets in its most recent fiscal year, according to public tax filings. Jerry Kolschowsky is the retired chairman and co-CEO of OSI Industries, an Aurora, Illinois, meat and poultry processing giant, with customers that, since it was founded in 1909, have included McDonald’s, Subway and Starbucks. It had $7.9 billion in revenue in 2022 and is No. 76 on Forbes’s list of America’s largest companies.
The Kolschowskys and their family foundation, the release says, have been quietly helping the community-owned health system expand its education and research programs for nearly 20 years. The Kolschowskys’ latest $25 million donation was the catalyst that allowed Sarasota Memorial Hospital to break ground on a new $75 million Research and Education Institute this past June, Sarasota Memorial CEO David Verinder says.
“Their support has been both strategic and purposeful, and very much appreciated,” Verinder says in the statement. “Over the years, their donations have helped SMH expand its education and research team and participate in groundbreaking studies that bring new technologies, new specialists and the latest treatment options to our community.”
By lending their name to the building, the Kolschowskys hope to inspire other philanthropists to fund community hospital research initiatives and clinical advances, SMH says. When it opens in 2025, the Kolschowsky Research and Education Institute will be a state-of-the-art training and research center that expands research and training opportunities for physicians and clinicians caring for patients throughout the region.
Advanced cancer care provided by Sarasota Memorial Chief Medical Officer Dr. James Fiorica influenced the Kolschowskys’ decision to support the cancer research program he leads. Karen Kolschowsky says the surgical advances that Fiorica and the cancer team used to treat her cancer 15 years ago saved her life.
“You don’t always understand how important clinical research and advanced therapies are until they save your life, or the life of someone you love,” said Tim Kolschowsky, president of the Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky Foundation, and one of two sons the couple has.
While their initial donations supported SMH’s cancer research initiatives, the Kolschowskys expanded their focus to include research for other medical specialties and clinical education.
Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s research and graduate medical education programs have tripled in size in recent years, with more than 50 active studies underway and thousands of physicians competing for residency and fellowship opportunities at SMH each year, the hospital system says. To date, nearly half of the resident physicians who completed training at SMH have stayed and established practices here, and nearly 70% have remained in Florida.
“The whole community benefits from the transformation taking place in our health system,” Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation President Stacey Corley says in the statement. “It’s very rewarding to all of us to see the new Education and Research Institute taking shape and to be able to offer the latest treatments, technologies and clinical trials for our patients.”