Health Care Heroes: Doug Barthel, Community Relations

Retired Sioux Falls police chief exudes pride for his community

Doug Barthel smiles in garden outside his office

Sanford Health’s presence in the community is a force to be reckoned with.

Behind that presence is a strong community relations team. Doug Barthel, senior community relations specialist, joined that team in 2015.

“We’re the go-between, between the community and the organization,” Barthel tells Sanford Health News. “We work with a lot of key stakeholders in the Sioux Falls area. I work with elected officials, business leaders, a lot of people I’ve had relationships with for a number of years.”

A 30-year career in law enforcement including the top job as chief of Sioux Falls Police Department would eventually help Barthel make those connections and build relationships.

During that time, Barthel admits, Sanford Health always stood out as a leader.

“I like the way they did business. I like the way they carry themselves, the way they’re respected in the community, and the mission they brought forward. It was always an organization that intrigued me. When the opportunity came up to work here, it was as perfect fit.”

The retired police chief doesn’t claim to know everything about health care but can always help bridge the connection to the right people who have the right answers.

“I love my job,” he says. “It’s a great organization. Good people to work with. It’s so much more than just a place. It’s the people. That’s why I’m here.”

Building community beyond Sanford

His passion for people and the community extend beyond law enforcement and his role at Sanford.

Barthel currently serves as a lawmaker in the South Dakota House of Representatives working to make Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County a better place.

“If you would’ve asked me five years ago if I would be in the legislature or some public office, I would’ve said ‘no’.”

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After three decades in public service, he missed that part of his life and wanted an opportunity to represent the city and state, to continue helping others, spread positivity and give back to a community he loved.

“I’m fortunate that Sanford Health supports me and allows me the ability to go out and serve our state and community. I don’t go out there as the Sanford Health representative. Frankly, I try to keep those very separate,” Barthel said. “The support I get from my employer and family makes me want to continue that.”

Family is everything

With two grown kids, he’s proud of the family he’s built with his wife, Patty, of 32 years.

“We can only do much as parents to get our child to a certain point and then it’s up to them,” Barthel said.

He credits a solid, safe, warm Sioux Falls community for being a great place to live.

“Being in the community is so much more than living and having a job there. It’s being a part of it — not from it. I think it’s critical that we all help build community and a good place for us to live, grow up, raise our children — along with a good place to work.”

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Posted In Community, Health Care Heroes

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