Dr. Michael LeBeau is president of the Bismarck region of Sanford Health and also serves on the Board of Directors for the Sanford Health Foundation. Here, he shares his background as a kidney doctor, his rise through administration and his belief in the importance of focusing on quality care while pursuing growth.
North Dakota is home
Michael LeBeau grew up in Lignite and Portal, North Dakota, two small towns that lie about 90 miles northwest of Minot. He graduated from Burke Central High School in Lignite, and then his family returned to New Town, North Dakota. It’s where his parents are originally from and the place LeBeau considers home.
LeBeau then attended Minot State University, graduating with a degree in psychology. From there, he went to the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and soon enrolled in UND’s medical school.
Following graduation in 2002, he completed a three-year internal medicine residency and a one-year chief residency. Then it was on to Iowa City, where he took a position as a nephrologist — a kidney specialist — at the University of Iowa for two years.
LeBeau is married with five children.
Even outside of work hours, LeBeau spends his time reading about medicine, especially nephrology.
He also enjoys golf and running when he’s not spending time with the kids.
Joining Sanford Health
In 2012, Medcenter One merged with Sanford Health. As part of a physicians group, LeBeau supported the decision.
“I liked the vision. I liked the importance placed on patient care, the importance placed on growth and the development of new services. And I liked the community involvement and the support that Sanford Health gave the communities it served,” he said.
LeBeau became interested in administration during the year he served as chief resident, which involved examining performance improvement, capacity, quality and more. It really focused him on the “how we do things better” mentality.
When he joined Medcenter One, LeBeau helped start the hospitalist program, which earned him a seat at the administration table. In his second year, he became chief of medicine. And just prior to the merger, LeBeau became involved in the Physician Executive Council, which he eventually led.
At the time of the merger, Dr. Craig Lambrecht, president and CEO, asked LeBeau to lead the transition team in joining with Sanford Health. LeBeau then acted as vice president of the clinic for about six months before officially becoming vice president of clinic care, where he would remain for five years.
In 2015, LeBeau rose to senior executive vice president of the Bismarck region. That same year, he joined the Sanford Health Board of Trustees.
Life in senior leadership
In March of this year, LeBeau became the president of the Bismarck region.
“I work with the core leadership team on strategy. I get a chance to work in leadership development. I get a chance to spend time at the operations table, thinking about our product, our quality, our growth, our financials,” he said.
Of everything he does day to day, LeBeau most enjoys working with senior leadership team.
“They’re excellent,” he said. “We get along well. I think we all have the same shared vision of growth — to become the tertiary care center of central and western North Dakota. I think everybody buys into the vision that we’re working on: better patient care, experience, and quality.”
He counts his mentors as Kelby Krabbenhoft, president and CEO of Sanford Health, and Dr. Daniel Blue, executive vice president of Sanford World Clinic.
LeBeau also sits on the Board of Directors for the Sanford Health Foundation.
A doctor and educator first
In pondering the milestones in his years at Sanford Health and its legacy institution, LeBeau said he’s most proud of the growth of the physicians group and its consistent recruitment.
“I think to recruit to a group that is physician-led and really believes in quality of care, I think to be a part of that, to be part of a team that has bought into Sanford Health culture and experience is what I’m most proud of,” he said.
LeBeau also expresses his passion for the education of medical students, for which he’s won a couple of awards from the University of North Dakota.
In 2016, LeBeau, a clinical assistant professor of internal medicine at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at UND, received the prestigious Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Faculty Award. Betsy Dickinson, M.D., a member of the class of 2016, helped nominate him for the award.
“Throughout my educational experience with Dr. LeBeau, I got to see firsthand his calming interaction with patients, family members, and hospital staff,” Dr. Dickinson said. “Whether it was discussing a terminal diagnosis with a patient, discussing a new treatment option, or addressing a nurse’s question, Dr. LeBeau did so in a respectful and empathetic manner. His confident yet humbled demeanor was something patients, family members, and staff all respected and confided in.”
Future outlook for Sanford Bismarck
In addition to becoming the tertiary care center of central and western North Dakota, LeBeau looks ahead to achieving other goals as well.
“I think our biggest goal is to change structure around which we talk about growth. One of our biggest things is building patient experience and patient quality, offering services that are second to none. We should use that as our platform of growth — not buildings, not number of miles covered,” he said.
The Bismarck region is also in the midst of a large expansion called Project 2019, which will increase hospital services and expand the types of surgeries and procedures offered. LeBeau will see that through.
Another of LeBeau’s agenda items is putting together a five-, 10-, and 20-year vision of what the Sanford Bismarck region can become.
“We’re lucky for what we have. We’re lucky to work in an environment where we’re well supported,” LeBeau said. “But Sanford Family is really what makes the job worthwhile. It’s being in the trenches, and being able to get work done as a team and for all of us to take pride in what we do together is what makes our jobs meaningful.”