Bob and Joan Geyer
When Bob and Joan Geyer talk about people struggling with mental health issues, they are obviously passionate. As longtime residents of Sarasota, this philanthropic couple has become known as one of many voices advocating for those struggling with mental health issues in our community.
As partners in business and philanthropy, the Geyers are committed to supporting initiatives to improve care for what is one of the largest yet most underserved segments in our region. Their most recent contribution was a $3 million gift supporting the creation of the Cornell Behavioral Health Pavilion on Sarasota Memorial’s Sarasota campus.
Joan says, “Many years ago, the way society often dealt with someone who had a mental illness was to send them away.” She points out that for many health issues, isolation is detrimental to recovery, and mental health is no exception. “Increasing access to highly trained clinicians and a state-of-the-art facility can be life-changing,” adds Bob.
They also explain that until now, there has been no parity in healthcare when it comes to mental health. Joan uses knee surgery as an example of a continuum of care. “When you have knee surgery, your providers prepare you for surgery, perform your procedure, arrange rehabilitation and schedule follow-ups,” Joan says. “This type of continuum of care should be widely available to those with mental health challenges as well. Without this, many patients cycle back through the system—or worse.”
The Geyers believe that a continuum of care works in mental health. In 2017, they helped open the Academy at Glengary, which provides vocational training and support for people who are actively pursuing recovery. The Academy has many success stories about individuals who have become vital members of society while managing their mental health.
The Time Has Come
Learning that SMH leadership was ready to create a state-of-the-art behavioral health facility—with the full continuum of care—brought both joy and relief to the Geyers. Joan shared that she has been advocating for upgrading the health system’s aging ‘70s-era Bayside Center for quite some time.
Sarasota Memorial Health Care System President and CEO David Verinder is grateful for the Geyers’ support. “I’ve spoken with the Geyers many times about the new behavioral health pavilion,” says Verinder. “We are very fortunate to have a couple with their passion and experience so committed to this project.”
Opening in the Fall of 2023, the new Cornell Pavilion will provide patient-centered, high-quality care with comprehensive services in one location. Separate units have been specially designed for geriatric, acute, adult, child and adolescent patients. The facility will also feature a therapeutic space dedicated to expanding outpatient services.
The Geyers would like to encourage others to step forward to be part of this long-awaited project. “Our health system must prioritize major projects, and funding is always a major factor,” says Bob. “This is why it is important for the community to get involved and help support this healthcare initiative.”
In recognition of their gift, the lobby will be named in the Geyers’ honor. Learn more about the new Cornell Behavioral Health Pavilion.
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