Inside Sanford’s new ‘front door,’ health system honors philanthropy, breakthroughs

Sanford Health’s new “front door” opens this week, as the health system’s international board meets at the new Sanford Foundation House with an agenda that includes a new million-dollar prize for health care research.

The “house,” which combines office space for the Sanford Foundation with meeting space for donors and events, is a tribute to Denny Sanford, whose philanthropy has catalyzed efforts for Sanford in research and health care on a global level.

When Sanford enters the building on the campus of the health system’s northeast Sioux Falls headquarters, he will find a chronology of his life and the initiatives he has helped propel.

There are personal photographs and memorabilia in a space known as “the perch” and designed for private conversation.

There’s the conference room featuring a table from his home where Sanford CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft asked for the donation that would rename Sioux Valley to Sanford.

And, in almost every public space, there are reminders of the broad reach Sanford’s philanthropy has allowed the health system to achieve.

“It’s really exceeded my expectations,” said Micah Aberson, Sanford’s chief global brand officer, whose role includes oversight of the foundation.

“I think the entire house is full of unique little surprises. I invite people to come check it out. The idea is that it’s a facility we’ll use functionally, but we absolutely want it to be something where people will pull off the interstate. We want people to come learn about Denny.”

The project is privately funded and has almost reached its $6 million fundraising goal, Aberson said.

The foundation moved about 30 employees into the space.

“This really cements, as a cornerstone of the organization, the role of philanthropy at Sanford Health, which was already happening naturally,” Aberson said, adding that now everyone from potential partners to physicians being recruited to executives and researchers “can’t approach the corporate office without first going by the Foundation House.”

Home to international board

The Sanford House also will be home to the health system’s nine-member international board of directors, which will meet there annually beginning this week.

It’s chaired by U.S. Open Champion Andy North and includes internationally known health care leaders and professional athletes.

The agenda for this week’s meeting includes discussion of the Sanford Lorraine Cross Award, a $1 million prize for excellence in life-changing treatments, medical innovations and research. Awarded every other year beginning Dec. 5, 2018, it will be among the top five most lucrative prizes for transformative breakthroughs in medical care.

In the decade since becoming Sanford Health, the system has grown and established itself to the point where it’s time to give to the next generation, said president and CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft.

“And we’re specifically looking for those experts who are at the finish line of innovation. We want to reward those scientists or doctors who take an idea and see it through.”

The award is designed to “inspire important conversations and bring forward life-changing treatments and medical innovations to change health care as we know it,” added David Pearce, executive vice president of Sanford Research.

It’s named after the Lorraine Cross, a symbol for those who take action for their passions. The award will be housed at the Sanford Foundation House, and winners will be given a replica.

Nominations open Jan. 1, 2018, and close Feb. 28, 2018. A scientific advisory board of 12 health care experts from across the country will recommend three finalists to the international board. The board will interview them at next year’s meeting and then decide on a winner.

“That’s an extension of the DNA of Sanford is to be an organization that finishes and gets things done, and we want to align ourselves with those types of individuals,” Aberson said. “We have a pretty robust process developed to go canvass developments and breakthroughs taking place the world over.”

Other items on the international board’s agenda include an update on Sanford’s world clinics. New sites are expected to be announced early next year. The board also will be updated on the Sanford International PGA Champions event, which is coming to Sioux Falls in September 2018, “which puts a great spotlight on our international agenda,” Aberson said.

Inside Sanford’s new ‘front door,’ health system honors philanthropy, breakthroughs

Sanford Health’s new “front door” opens this week, as the health system’s international board meets at the new Sanford Foundation House with an agenda that includes a new million-dollar prize for health care research.

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