The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Weather Service recently named Sarasota Memorial Health Care System as one of their 2023 “Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors of Excellence,” an honor given to a select number of organizations who are helping to improve readiness, responsiveness and overall resilience against extreme weather.
"Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is a great example of an organization that promotes awareness and preparedness for dangerous weather to their employees," said the NOAA and National Weather Service in their announcement of the 2023 Ambassadors.
The health system has a variety of educational and communications tools and systems in place to help engage, inform and prepare staff for weather events, including:
- Educating new hires about weather awareness/preparation
- Hosting monthly Emergency Management Committee meetings
- Implementing redundant emergency communications and implementing a service providing enhanced weather notifications
- Inviting guest experts from Sarasota County Emergency Management and the National Weather Service to speak
- Posting a wealth of emergency preparedness information on its intranet and detailed hurricane information on external website.
Severe weather readiness has long been a priority for the health system due to its vulnerable location on the west coast of Florida. The organization has comprehensive emergency management plans to help its campuses get ready for and mitigate risks from hurricanes and other disasters to the fullest extent possible. Sarasota Memorial also has devoted significant resources to "hurricane hardening" its facilities and ensuring ample back-up power and supplies are available.
The health system's hurricane preparedness was put to the test during Hurricane Ian in 2022. SMH hospitals in Sarasota and Venice remained fully operational during and after the storm, stepping up to care for a large surge of patients, when a number of other health care facilities were forced to close or limit services.
“It's an incredible honor to be named an Ambassador of Excellence for all of our efforts to keep staff informed and prepared for severe weather, so we can continue to care for patients even when facing hazardous conditions," said Jeffery Mangrum, the health system’s director of Public Safety and Emergency Management.
Now in its seventh year, the Ambassador of Excellence Awards has previously honored a number of Sarasota Memorial's government and community partners, who work closely with the health system to help the region remain ready for weather emergencies.
This is the second national weather-ready honor earned by the health system. Last year, SMH-Sarasota, SMH-Venice and the North Port Emergency Room & Health Care Center were all designated as "StormReady Supporters" by the National Weather Service, affirming the three campuses met certain criteria for preparing for severe weather.
About Sarasota Memorial Health Care System
Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is a regional referral center offering Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of care, with more than 1.5 million patient visits each year across its 2 hospital campuses, freestanding ER, and network of outpatient care centers. Its flagship 901-bed Sarasota hospital has been consistently recognized as one of the nation’s best, with superior patient outcomes and comprehensive network of outpatient. The public health system opened its second acute-care hospital, SMH-Venice, in November 2021 to serve the growing south Sarasota County region. For information, visit smh.com.