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Sarasota Hospital Board At Large Seat 2: Laurie Kreindler

Meet the candidate.

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  • | 7:15 a.m. September 25, 2020
  • Sarasota
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Name: Laurie Kreindler

Age: 61

Family: Married for 38 years to Tom Laster; two adult children. 


Laurie Kreindler, a filmmaker and pioneering science, technology, engineering and mathematics education advocate, is best known for her accomplishments as the CEO and co-founder of It's About Time, our nation’s largest publisher of National Science Foundation funded STEM curricula.

Kreindler started IAT in 1996 with Tom Laster, who served as President and Co-Founder. She created the vision for the STEM curricula start-up and spearheaded its transformation into a global leader and publisher of innovative experiential programs for STEM learning.

At a crossroads in a broken education system, where effective STEM programs are crucial to economic survival, Kreindler remained tireless in her mission to empower the world’s students through STEM and inspire the next generation of scientists, leaders and concerned scientists. Although Kreindler successfully sold IAT in 2017, her commitment to STEM education and our community continues.

A lifelong entrepreneur, Kreindler also created her own production company, LKL Productions, for which she served as founder, president and executive producer of acclaimed documentaries including “I Can Do It!”—- about entrepreneurship in America – and “The Solar Advantage,” which spotlighted the benefits of solar energy. The former film, which Kreindler produced at the age of 23, was shown at a special screening at the White House.

Kreindler graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1980 with a degree in fine arts. She and Laster live in Sarasota and have two amazing children.


Why are you running for office?

I am running for the board because I love Sarasota and want to give back to our community. As a former CEO, I understand what it takes to inspire and lead an organization to success. As CEO, I was responsible for strategic direction: exceeding financial goals and nurturing our corporate culture. SMH needs board members who will bring strong business knowledge, as well as an ability to inspire innovation while creating a positive climate for both patients and health care professionals to thrive. I would be honored to represent our community and would be grateful for your consideration and support.

What are three priorities you hope to accomplish if elected?

  1. Ensure that SMH’s mission — which is to provide health care services that excel in caring, quality and innovation — and SMH’s vision — which is to serve our community with the best health care system in America by being the best place to be a patient, the best place to work and the best place to practice medicine — are always front and center.
  2. Ensure the on-time and on-budget completion of the new SMH facilities including the Venice Hospital, the cancer institute and new cancer wing at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and the newly approved Behavioral Health Pavilion.
  3. Anticipate and ensure readiness for major challenges. COVID 19 and increasing evidence of climate disruption, make it clear that we need even deeper financial reserves, inventories of medical supplies and equipment as well as a renewed commitment to support our doctors, nurses and staff with professional development opportunities and the best medical advancements. We must be prepared to support our team and community through this difficult transition and beyond.

Compared to other not-for-profit hospital companies nationwide, Sarasota Memorial’s operating margins — 7.3% — are more than 3 times better than the national average. What, if anything, would you suggest the hospital and hospital board should be doing differently to improve the hospital system’s nationally recognized operations?

“Sarasota Memorial offers Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of inpatient, outpatient and extended care services, and has more than 800,000 patient visits a year. The 829-bed acute care hospital has been recognized repeatedly as one of the nation’s largest and best, with superior patient outcomes and a complete continuum of outpatient services — from urgent care clinics and physician groups, laboratory and diagnostic imaging centers, to home health and skilled nursing and rehabilitation. We reinvest earnings in patient care for our community, allowing Sarasota Memorial to serve as the region’s health-care safety net while providing advanced treatments and technology.”

SMH, as described above, has been able to provide our region’s health care safety net while maintaining its healthy financial foundation by offering excellent care. The hospital and the board should continue this excellent trajectory. Today, with increased challenges caused by COVID-19 and climate disruption, we must be even more vigilant. We can continue to explore innovative technological solutions to decrease costs and increase patient and provider well-being.

What skill set will you bring to the board that is not there now?

COVID-19 has created myriad new challenges. As a board member, I would look forward to contributing my expertise in strategic planning, entrepreneurship, STEM education and innovation to anticipate and tackle these challenges head on.

SM Health Systems reported $193 million in uncollected/bad debts last fiscal year. That’s 20% of total revenues and twice what the hospital system generates in operating profits. What’s your comment and reaction to that? 

 oversight, along with quality oversight and setting
 strategic direction/mission oversight, are three of the core responsibilities of the board. I agree that the board must continue to fully understand our financial situation and anticipate the possible impact from the current economic losses in employment and health care as well as the potential additional losses in health care coverage if the current administration is successful in eliminating the Affordable Care Act. Every hospital has to have healthy operating margins to survive, but a community hospital does not have to pay shareholders. My position is that Sarasota Memorial should continue to reinvest a portion of its operating margin back to our community while carefully maintaining a healthy financial position. In the time of COVID-19, this is an even bigger challenge than usual. According to 2019 government figures, 13% of Floridians are uninsured. That is more than one out of every 10 people in our community. Community hospitals, such as SMH, are the front line for care when these individuals have a health care need. Medical bills are among the top reasons why Americans declare bankruptcy. This puts the health of our health care system at risk for everyone. 

Although we must maintain our strong financial foundation and our stellar balance sheet and credit rating, we can’t sacrifice the excellent care that we provide to our patients nor can we sacrifice the support that we provide to our doctors, nurses and staff. I believe we have several options. Short term, we can put increased emphasis on both the SMH Foundation with greater outreach to our local and national community and fundraise using health-related products. Medium term, we can bolster our efforts towards securing private, state and federal grant funding. Long term, we can decrease expenses and generate increased customer satisfaction and incremental revenue by embracing innovation. For example, we can work with the tech communities to become pilot sites and financial participants in emerging technology solutions including health care improvement applications as well as software that drives efficiencies in both clinical operations and back-office administrative billing and claims.

SM Health System is opening its new hospital in Venice in 2021. What’s your view on whether SMH should have a hospital in North Port?

I am 100% in favor of the concept of local care. As a result, I agree with SMH’s strategic plan to build the hospital in North Port, at the intersection of Interstate 75 and Toledo Blade. To accomplish this, we need to first focus on launching the Venice Hospital, the cancer institute, the new cancer wing at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and the newly approved Behavioral Health Pavilion. We also need to continue to build our base of physicians attracting the best talent from across the country. Once our new facilities are up and running and we have secured the best talent, barring any unforeseen circumstances, we can move ahead with the hospital in North Port.


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