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Sarasota Memorial CEO talks about pandemic report

Written by on Saturday, May 25, 2024

On WSLR’s ‘The Detail’, David Verinder discusses the hospital’s achievements facing COVID.

By Johannes Werner

Original Air Date: May 24, 2024

Host: David Verinder is the CEO of Sarasota Memorial Hospital, one of the best hospitals in Florida. Verinder is also the chief executive of a public hospital that has been attacked by some over its handling of patients during the pandemic, to the point where a slate of candidates who say they represent Medical Freedom could be taking control of the board that oversees Memorial Hospital in the upcoming elections this August and November. Verinder appeared yesterday on The Detail show on WSLR, hosted by Cathy Antunes.

Johannes Werner: After passionate accusations by some members of the public, the three Medical Freedom members already on the board demanded an investigation of the hospital’s pandemic protocols. The investigation did not provide the results the Medical Freedom advocates wanted: It showed that Sarasota Memorial had a 24% better mortality rate than its peer hospitals. In other words: Fewer COVID patients here had to die than elsewhere.

Here’s a part of the conversation Antunes and Verinder had about the internal study:

David Verinder: I think it was an unbelievable time, and it’s something that you never expect to go through. There’s no class in hospital administration or an MBA school or anything that tells you how to do this. I happen to be the CEO when all this came around. But, it’s really the team around us that makes this happen. It’s engaging the medical staff, engaging the nurses, engaging the community in very real ways, engaging the state and federal agencies. And, I mean, personally I couldn’t have been more proud to have been part of that team during that very difficult time, in a time of unknowns.

David Verinder

And we did things during COVID that quite honestly, I would have never thought we had the ability to do. But you know, you start inventing it as you go along. The world hasn’t seen a pandemic like this in a hundred years. And so it was definitely something to it, you know, so you go, you jump through those three years or so, and you get to the report that you’re mentioning. We had some politics get in the way of a lot of this, and the system at the board’s request asked us to put together a report for the community about, you know, what did we learn during COVID? How did it work out? What were the results and on? And it’s very, very much a document that anybody can pull up. It’s just on our website. 

Cathy Antunes: That’s where I just downloaded it from the website — but this was conducted, wasn’t it, by an independent group? 

DV: We did. It was premier data, which you mentioned, and it’s very well referenced in that report. I’ll say when we started looking at the report that we were … we didn’t know what the results were going to be. All we know is we put our head down and took care of patients and took care of the community, during a very trying time. I think when we were doing a pretty good job, we were in communication with a lot of other healthcare systems throughout the country and throughout the state of Florida.

And as you mentioned, we looked at the end of the day, you know, what was really important is the mortality rate of patients that were here and you referenced that chart at the end, that gets into the mortality of it, and we were 24% lower than, kind of a national average.

And really, I remember the first time I saw that report, because I was a little holding my breath because I didn’t really know what it was going to show. And just, we let out a collective sigh, relief that—

CA: I think you should have been jumping up and down. 

DV: Well, it was a combination. 

CA: Because just, real people, what did that mean? And they were saying that if all hospitals in Premier’s database had the same observed mortality rate as Sarasota Memorial, as many as 38,000 deaths, 38,000 people, Would have lived. Right?

DV: That’s exactly what it says. 

JW: For the full interview with Cathy Antunes on The Detail, go to WSLR.org, click on “Archive”, and look for the latest edition of The Detail.


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