Sarasota Memorial Health Care System

Sarasota Memorial’s HealthSquare Offers Free Assessments and Advice in the Local Shopping Center

Sarasota, Florida

Public Hospital

806 Beds

In November 2011, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System opened HealthSquare at Westfield Sarasota Square Mall, where visitors can obtain free screenings and health risk assessments, and learn the latest strategies to manage and prevent chronic disease. They also can find a physician, make an appointment, and learn about medical services available in the community.

The not-for-profit health care system is committed to understanding community health needs, which often means reaching outside the traditional hospital walls. As Sarasota Memorial’s social media presence has grown in recent years, Sarasota Memorial has discovered that people can often be reached most effectively when they are in a comfortable setting, have free time, and aren’t feeling threatened or intimidated. The idea behind HealthSquare is exactly that: a warm, welcoming space located directly in the middle of a local shopping center. It allows visitors to stop by at their convenience, ask questions and get help sifting through the many options and medical services available in the community.

HealthSquare is staffed by Sarasota Memorial’s trained facilitators.  Staff assist patients in using a variety of free technology, including measurements for blood pressure, weight, body fat and blood oxygen.  Visitors can ask the staff any questions, and staff will either answer the question directly or direct visitors to the correct answer or resource.  Visitors are often referred to urgent care, rehabilitation, mental and behavioral health services, and other services available in the community that they may not have been aware of. Often, people ask questions that they had wanted to ask for years, but didn’t feel comfortable, or hadn’t had an opportunity to ask in previous medical encounters.

Uninsured patients use the area to check their vital signs at no cost, with no pressure.  In addition, HealthSquare staff are often able to direct uninsured and underinsured patients to the best place to receive care at a free or reduced rate.

The overall purpose of HealthSquare is to promote wellness in a space where people are receptive to the message, helping create positive health care experiences. Community support for Sarasota Memorial is strong, and the hospital continually seeks ways to return that support to the community in the form of essential health care services that are not offered elsewhere in the county.

After 12 months of operations, HealthSquare provided more than 40,000 individual screenings. HealthSquare staff also provided about 12,500 recorded health care interactions, such as people asking health care questions, seeking help with a health care issue, or providing a referral.  Some visitors visit HealthSquare daily, weekly or monthly to monitor their blood pressure, while others have just used the service only once. Many didn’t know that they had high blood pressure or other concerning symptoms until they used the free services. There’s also a mini-stage, where physicians and expert speakers host lectures and discussions multiple times a week.

HealthSquare is staffed year-round and open seven days a week during peak hours. The unique service was made possible through a grant from Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, Inc.

“Hospitals typically are not places where people want to go, and in fact, often avoid until they are facing a serious health concern…but we have found through our social networking and community outreach efforts that people want and need access to fast, reliable health information. HealthSquare is our way of interacting with people before they need us, in a way that’s easy and convenient for them, and at a time when they feel physically and emotionally ready to share any questions and concerns.”
– Gwen MacKenzie, CEO, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System