David Verinder’s first experience with Sarasota Memorial Hospital came long before his eight-and-counting years of employment there.
Verinder and his family came to Longboat Key on vacation when his younger daughter was 2. She was playing when she fell down and got a bad cut on her arm. Verinder took her to SMH’s emergency room.
“They were so great with her,” he said. “My wife and I always remembered it.”
So, when an opening came up at SMH for a chief financial officer, Verinder applied and was hired in 2006. He and his family moved to settle in Sarasota from Temple, Texas.
“It was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” Verinder said.
Under the former CEO of SMH, Gwen MacKenzie, he accomplished several feats.
His primary goal was to turn around the hospital’s wavering finances. To accomplish this, he helped create a five-year plan to start balancing expenditures and revenues to get the hospital’s budget back in black, said Marguerite Malone, Hospital Board chairwoman.
In 2010, he became chief operating officer, and was responsible for the development of the new Courtyard Tower and the five urgent care and outpatient sites built within the area. In 2008, when construction on the tower began, the hospital project was the only major development occurring during the recession, Verinder said. The hospital hired local subcontractors and workers, providing about 500 jobs in the community during the project.
He was named interim CEO when MacKenzie left in May, and was officially hired on as CEO last week with the full support of the board, Malone said. Monday was his first day.
Verinder said he and MacKenzie worked together well, and that she taught him how to manage different people and communicate with them. Through her, he learned the importance of the SMH team: the employees, community, physicians, volunteers, community leaders, other hospitals and state officials.
“Team’s a big word,” he said.
Malone said when board members began the search for a full-time replacement, they brainstormed a new description of the CEO position to communicate the high expectations they had, and they would not settle for less.
As Verinder completed the interview process, “it was absolutely clear David met and exceeded all our expectations,” Malone said. “We’ve got a home run right here.”
His two goals now are to build a rehabilitation hospital — it’s still in the designing phase — as well as continue to look for new services to bring to the community that currently are unavailable.
As a not-for-profit hospital, Verinder sees the institution as a part of serving the community.
“It’s a huge community asset. We’re very much in the fabric of the community,” he said.
When he’s not working his 80-hour weeks, Verinder likes to spend time with his wife and two teenaged daughters. On the weekends, they take their small boat (named “Lagniappe,” a Cajun word for “a little extra”) out into Sarasota Bay. He and his wife, Monica, both Lousiana State University alumni, try to attend football games when LSU plays in Gainesville.
His daughters grew up in Sarasota and now attend Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School.
“I love the area,” he said.
“Often we have a picture of a financial person as a numbers guy, but he’s also a caring, compassionate person,” Malone said. “It’s a nice blend: a financial acumen with a caring, compassionate view of the world.”