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Sarasota Memorial Hospital prepares to open a new mental health facility

The $71 million Cornell Family Behavioral Health Pavilion was built with four inpatient units.
Eric Garwood
Community News Collaborative
The $71 million Cornell Family Behavioral Health Pavilion was built with four inpatient units.

A $10 million donation from Target's CEO and his wife helped make the Cornell Family Behavioral Health Pavilion possible.

Knowing that an involuntary commitment can be “traumatic for individuals who have preconceived notions,’’ Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s new behavioral health unit, opening on Dec. 1 on Osprey Avenue in Sarasota, was designed to offer a different approach.

“Many of our patient rooms have three beds,” said Terry Cassidy, executive director of Behavioral Health Services for Sarasota Memorial Hospital. “On my worst day, I would not want to be put into a room with two strangers I don’t know, especially two strangers who are also in their own mental health crisis.”

So, the new building will feature single beds in each room. Also, lots of natural light, screened porches, a garden and a sensory room on each floor, which will allow individuals to put on specific music or calming colored lights.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital is the largest intake facility in Sarasota and Manatee counties, accounting for 41% of the Baker Act admissions in both counties in 2022-2023.

The new $71 million Cornell Family Behavioral Health Pavilion was built with four inpatient units to serve different patient populations:

  • A 16-bed geriatric unit;
  • A 22-bed child and adolescent unit;
  • A 24-bed adult unit;
  • And a 22-bed acute care unit.

“It really is a pavilion that’s built totally to promote recovery and healing,” Cassidy said, “Walking in the door, it’s on par with other Sarasota Memorial Hospital facilities that you know you’re really going to be taken care of ... It really gives the strong message that you’re important, you’re valued, and you’re in good hands.”

The new 95,000 square foot facility replaces Sarasota Memorial’s 1970s-era behavioral health hospital.

Target Corp. Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell and wife, Martha, in 2021 donated $10 million to support the creation of the new facility.

At the time of the Cornell family’s announcement, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System CEO and president David Verinder said it was important to recognize the needs of the facility’s clients in preparing to replace the hospital system’s 1970s era building.

"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," he said.

The ribbon-cutting will be held from 9 to noon at 1625 S. Osprey Ave.

Caroline Hicks is a reporter for the Community News Collaborative. Reach out to her at