Cornell Family Donates $10 Million to Support the Creation of the Behavioral Health Pavilion at SMH


OCTOBER 20, 2021

The heartfelt gift will support a new, state-of-the-art treatment facility and expanded services at a time when COVID-19 has disrupted lives and led to an increase in people struggling with mental health challenges.

The Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation today announced that Target Corp. Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell and wife Martha Cornell are donating $10 million to support the creation of a new behavioral health facility. The gift will help fund comprehensive mental health services at a time when the global pandemic and other ongoing crises have further illuminated the need for supporting those struggling with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

“I have the privilege of leading a team of more than 350,000 people, and have seen firsthand the power of creating a culture that is built on care, prioritizes mental health and wellbeing, and provides resources, space and support for all families,” said Brian Cornell. “I’ve also recognized the importance of humanizing this topic – eliminating the stigma that discourages some from seeking the support they need, while increasing access to care that places people at the center. I hope this project shines much-needed light on the importance of comprehensive behavioral health care, and spurs others to support this project and others like it across the country.”

“We’re proud to play a role in the creation of this state-of-the-art behavioral health pavilion, whose centralized approach fills an immense need by providing convenient, comprehensive care under one roof,” added Martha Cornell. “We know it will change countless lives in Sarasota, a community that has been dear to our family for years, and we hope it inspires change all across the country.”

In recognition of the gift, the new facility will be named the Cornell Behavioral Health Pavilion, announced Sarasota Memorial Health Care System President and CEO David Verinder and Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation President Mason Ayres.

Slated to begin construction early next year, the pavilion will replace Sarasota Memorial’s aging 1970s-era behavioral health hospital with a modern facility that enhances, expands and centralizes care for people affected by mental and behavioral health challenges. From the ground up, the $71 million, 95,000-square-foot facility is designed to provide a safe, healing environment for people of all ages.

“When someone is going through a crisis, it can be frightening to go into a facility that looks old and institutional,” said Verinder. “The Cornells’ gift will help transform that experience, ensuring the people of our community have a warm, welcoming place where they can feel safe and get help through what may be the most difficult days of their lives.”

The 3-story pavilion will be built on the hospital’s Sarasota campus, with 4 inpatient units to serve different patient populations: a 16-bed geriatric unit, 22-bed child and adolescent unit, 24-bed adult unit and 22-bed acute care unit. Each unit will have private rooms with large windows letting in natural light and other design elements that help reduce stress and promote recovery. The first floor will have therapeutic spaces dedicated for the health system’s expanding outpatient treatment and counseling programs.

The Cornell gift comes at a crucial time for individuals and families in our community. COVID-19 has kept many people indoors, stripped of their normal routines, and that isolation has led to dramatic increases in the number of people experiencing emotional distress – and seeking treatment.

“Fortunately, the pandemic has moved more people to talk publicly about their personal challenges, which has encouraged others to get the help they need,” Ayres said. “We are deeply grateful to the Cornells for this generous and life-changing gift. Their passion and vision for this project will touch many in our community who are affected by mental health issues.”

About Brian and Martha Cornell

Brian Cornell, in partnership with his wife, Martha Cornell, has spent roughly four decades in escalating leadership positions at leading retail and consumer-product companies. Since being named chairman and CEO of Target in 2014, Brian has spearheaded vast investments in wages, benefits, team development, diverse and equitable representation, and in creating a culture that helps the retailer’s more than 350,000 team members care, grow and win together. Along the way, he has driven the company’s strongest growth trends in its 60-year history. Among other accolades, Brian was recently named “The Visionary” by the National Retail Federation.

Martha and Brian Cornell

Read more about the Cornell Behavioral Health Pavilion.

To make a gift or learn more about available naming opportunities, please call 941.917.1286.

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