A Great Place to Call Home - Venice Hospital

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SARASOTA, FL (WWSB) - Venice is a "Great Place to Call Home" and one important thing that makes it so is Venice Hospital and the great health care it provides.

Venice Hospital opened to the public in December of 1951.

Retired Anesthesiologist, Dr. Richard Beebe says, "Back then, They bought an old hotel here on this property where the hospital now stands and they started surgery in 6 months. They also had 4 bassinets for babies."

And a staff of dedicated volunteers stepped in eager to help.

Joan Schum, Vice President of Communications and Education for the Volunteers says, "The women started it in 1951 but men came in 1961."

Female Volunteers were called Pink Ladies, male volunteers were White Knights. At one time they had over 900 volunteers. And this Hospital means the world to them.

Joan says, "The volunteers love it here."

The hospital was a quite different place in those earlier days.

Dr. Beebe says, "The operating room was one first floor. We had to carry patients up to second floor where their rooms were."

At first, there were no elevators. But the hospital flourished.

"It grew every year from 12 beds to 22 beds to 44 beds. And eventually ended up with 312 beds."

Dr. Beebe arrived as Head of Anesthesiology in 1973. He says, " 1973 to 1983 were boom years here A lot of new young doctors moved in with different specialties."

But times changed and the hospital was sold. But it came back with a vengeance..

CEO Bob Moore says, "This hospital is the hub of the community and a lot of things make it that way. From the volunteers to the medical staff to the economic impact on the community, to the jobs it provides."

And he says it's still improving.

"We aren't delivering babies any more. But we are doing open heart surgery. We are doing the most advanced procedures that you can find anywhere and we are getting great outcomes."

And a magnificent facility is soon to come.

"We are building a 209 bed all private room hospital, a larger facility, with larger surgical suites, and state of the art technology, and a top notch staff."