- September 25, 2020
Name: Sarah Lodge
Family: Married to Ryan Lodge, three children, ages 9,7 and 3
Bio: I’m a proud Florida native, wife, mom of three fun children, certified financial planner and passionate volunteer. I’m running for the hospital board to serve our community that I love and adore.
I was born and raised in Florida and moved to Sarasota in 2006 after visiting with my husband and falling in love with this beautiful community. We feel blessed to call Sarasota home and want to ensure all of our neighbors flourish and enjoy life here.
I am a first vice president with The Gress Lodge Group at RBC Wealth Management, and my husband owns a small, local business. All three of our kids were born at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and now attend local schools, so it’s easy to see we are deeply rooted in Sarasota.
When we moved here, we both knew that truly being a part of a community meant being involved and giving back. Therefore, we dove right into volunteering with various organizations throughout Sarasota and learning about this community.
I have served as president of Junior League, which has more than 700 women focused on developing volunteers and supporting our community. President of the Rotary Club Foundation, whose focus is building a better community and a better world, and during that time I helped start the Rotary food pantries throughout Sarasota county and led the Rotary Reading Project, which has put almost 20,000 books into the hands of young kids. Lastly, I am a founding board member of Impact 100 SRQ which is an organization of women collectively giving directly to organizations in Sarasota and Manatee county. I also am a graduate of Gulfcoast Leadership Institute and Sarasota Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Sarasota, which have both given me a broader understanding of Sarasota County. In 2019 I was nominated to SRQ Women in Business and was awarded Rotary Club of Sarasota Rotarian of the Year.
All of these roles and experiences have allowed me to hear the struggles, needs, wants and strengths of our community. I am, and always have been, passionate about helping others. To be reelected as a board member of the Sarasota Memorial public hospital board, I would strive to continue to have it be the best place to work, be a patient, and it would be an honor to continue to serve our community on the Sarasota Memorial Board.
Why are you running for office?
I am running for reelection to this seat because I am passionate about giving back to our community, and our health care system truly affects every person living here. Our public hospital is not only our largest employer but growing by leaps and bounds to address our communities needs. During this time I feel like someone with my combination of health and finance background is a great asset to the strategic planning and large fiscal decisions being made. As we all have felt during these past few months, our health is incredibly important to us. We are blessed to live in a town that has an incredible health care system, and I intend to do everything I can to continue this.
What are three priorities you hope to accomplish if elected?
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?
SMH has a strong base and leadership team that we should all be proud of. The fact that we are consistently being recognized and awarded even during these tough few months of COVID-19 shows the tremendous leadership team in place. With that said, as a board member, we always want to give the best patient care while also managing a large business and maintaining the best ratings. Having a team oriented organization with goals and aspirations to be the best and continue to be the best all around is how you achieve and maintain that, and I would strive to continue this throughout the SMH team.
What skill set will you bring to the board that is not there now?
As a current board member, I have tried to bring my unique combination of health, leadership and finance to the team. I am a certified financial planner and have a bachelor's degree in health science from the University of Florida. I have extensive experience in long-term strategic planning and fiscal oversight and have spent 14 years volunteering in our community and listening to the needs. I understand that being on this board means representing our citizens and will continue this vision.
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?
As we all know, the ongoing battle of health care costs is nothing new, and it is expensive. With that said, SMH is a public hospital system that is not in a budget shortfall at this time, and the funds you are stating above are not adjusted to what we expect to collect. SMH has a focus on treating all citizens of Sarasota County, and therefore we offer services to our community that would not otherwise have the care in other communities. Of course with offering these services, there is a cost, and that is something that is always being monitored and a focus, so that we can continue to serve our community as well as maintain a successful balance sheet.
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?
Our current strategic plan for the hospital has identified the need for a hospital in North Port. We are currently in the phase of building out the Venice hospital, which will bring more medical providers to that area and allow for further growth down in south county. As much as we all might want these things to happen quickly, we have to put in a good base of doctors, nurses and staff to create a structure, so we can grow properly. We can see with the growth in the area, and we know the demand is only going to increase over time, which is why it is part of the plan.