Andy Wentzy is the senior director of business development for Sanford World Clinic. He recounts his 18-year history with Sanford Health, outlines the vision for the World Clinic initiative and affirms his belief that this is a special time and place in health care.
Early life on two continents
Wentzy grew up a “military brat” and “a bit of a vagabond.” His father served in the U.S. Army, and his mother taught elementary school. Wentzy was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, and lived there until age four, moving around the country — to Heidelberg, to Bad Kreuznach, to Mainz.
His family returned to the United States and again moved around the country — to Colorado, to North Carolina, to Hawaii — before settling in Winter Park, Florida.
Educational background and early career
With family roots in South Dakota, Wentzy chose to become a third-generation Jackrabbit, enrolling in South Dakota State University’s engineering program.
During his junior year, in a class focused on the fundamentals of concrete, he decided that engineering might not be the career for him and switched to complete a degree in mass communications.
After graduation, Wentzy returned to Florida, working in resort relations for Walt Disney World for a year. Then, he and his wife, Sharon, moved back to the Upper Midwest, with Andy taking a job as a corporate community relations specialist for Best Buy in Minneapolis.
Joining Sanford Health
Wentzy and his wife wanted to start a family and to return to South Dakota to do so. They settled in Sioux Falls, and after moving 19 times throughout his life, Andy has now lived in Sioux Falls for 18 years.
Seeking work with a large, growing organization, Wentzy joined Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System (now Sanford Health) as director of marketing in November 2001.
“Supporting the development of the new physician division and its brand, I was invited into meetings with senior leadership and was given an opportunity to listen and learn about the strategy, complexity and dynamism of the business.
“Always with an eye on growth and sustainability, the organization was ahead of the trend in integrating physician practice, nursing leadership, inpatient care, health education and then was beginning to think about health insurance and research. I learned so much from those great leaders.”
While working in marketing, Wentzy completed his master’s in business administration at the University of Sioux Falls and soon received a call to take on a new role, director of clinic operations.
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
Shortly after his transition into operations, Dave Link, who served on president and CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft’s corporate leadership team, called Wentzy. Link asked Wentzy to come to his office where he described the team’s plan to create a proposal for a local businessperson who had developed an affinity for the organization.
“He asked me if I would help to create this proposal. And despite thinking I had a nice path ahead in operations, it was apparent very quickly that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I said ‘yes.'”
It was September 2006, and Wentzy joined a small team meeting quietly to develop the series of proposals that would be presented to Denny Sanford.
In steps that are now well documented, Krabbenhoft and a small team of executives traveled to Colorado to present and discuss the proposal with Mr. Sanford where he agreed to make the largest single gift to a hospital system in history.
The new Sanford Health
Pivoting to the announcement of the gift and the subsequent development of the proposed projects, Link asked Wentzy to be director of the Sanford Initiatives. Over the next eight years, the team created a series of additional proposals for Mr. Sanford. When he said yes, they worked to create new teams to execute on the projects he supported.
As the Development and Research division took shape around these initiatives, Wentzy’s role shifted from proposal and project development into a planning function — working on the enterprise strategic plan, annual reports and other governance updates for the corporate leadership team and board of trustees.
This continued until Rich Adcock, then in charge of Development and Research, asked Wentzy to become his chief of staff early in 2015.
Scaling up World Clinic
As proposed to Mr. Sanford in 2007, the Sanford World Clinic initiative was designed for Sanford to:
- Learn about the ways in which health care is provided and paid for in other parts of the world
- Engage in and impact health outcomes and disease research, and
- Work with others in developing an international constituency and brand
In the original vision, World Clinic would establish five pediatric clinics in North America: three in the U.S., one in Mexico and one in Canada. The team identified and constructed the three in the United States: one each in Oklahoma, Oregon and California.
As momentum grew, the plan shifted to build 10 in the U.S. and 10 more around the world but with a broader scope of service beyond pediatrics. This led to unique operations in Ghana, China and Germany.
In mid-2016, members of the corporate leadership and World Clinic teams began discussing the next phases of the organization’s international efforts. While Wentzy helped to develop the new plan, he was encouraged to support this international growth and became senior director of business development for the initiative.
“I believe the exposure I’ve been given has allowed me to represent Sanford Health in a unique way, and I hope to parlay some of that into unique projects and programs with our international partners,” he adds.
Today, beyond the early efforts in the U.S., Ghana, China and Germany, the World Clinic team collaborates with leading health organizations in Costa Rica, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Vietnam.
Wentzy finds he most enjoys the people he’s fortunate to work with.
“We truly have world-class partners in these countries. They’re dynamic and innovative, and each is in a unique position to grow,” Wentzy said.
The World Clinic initiative continues to evolve. Under the leadership of Dr. Dan Blue, Jim Slack and the Sanford International Board, the team is shifting from a goal to create geographic dispersion broadly around the world to establishing greater depth with each existing partner and seeking regional growth when advantageous.
“Within each of these unique countries and relationships, our team is working to create systems and integration that garner impact, that support the extension of new access and services complementing those that are otherwise available,” Wentzy said.
Several of these partnerships will serve as hubs for nearby growth. For example, Sanford Health’s partner in Costa Rica provides a launching pad for additional expansion across Latin America.
And Sanford Health will likely consider different types of international partnerships in the future. “Our exposure to health care delivery, systems and operations in 10 countries allows a unique purview — as our relationships and operations mature in each of these locations, we will undoubtedly have additional opportunities for impact in surrounding communities,” Wentzy said.
Family life, hobbies and interests
Outside of Sanford Health, Wentzy maintains a busy personal life. His wife, Sharon, is a software engineer. Together, they have two teenage daughters, both of whom are successful athletes and students.
“I’ve really enjoyed watching them come to understand that hard work translates to success,” he said. “We are very proud of them.”
Between professional travel and family travel, spare time is at a minimum. But he finds a great deal of fulfillment in the work he is doing.
“Sanford Health really is a special place to be, and I don’t think we can overstate that,” he said. “We feel particularly grateful to have the opportunity to develop these international operations through partnership.”
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