Philip Samuelson: ‘Making the care transition stronger’

As regional VP, he pulls campuses together to provide care across the lifespan

Phil Samuelson stands arms crossed in front of the Good Samaritan Society National Campus pond

Philip Samuelson is the regional vice president for Sioux Falls and southwest Minnesota for The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society. Here, he shares his wide-ranging background in long-term care, his appreciation for the variety that the Good Samaritan Society provides, and his hope for creating care across the lifespan with Sanford Health.

Following in his parents’ footsteps

Samuelson grew up in Alexandria, Minnesota, and lived on the water in the “lakes area.” His father taught business at the local technical school, and his mother was a nurse at a long-term care facility. Samuelson would go on to combine the two professions by becoming a long-term care executive.

After graduating from Jefferson Senior High in Alexandria, he attended Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, on a music scholarship, playing the euphonium. Like other Sanford Health and Society leaders, he majored in business administration, with an emphasis on health care administration and long-term care administration.

During college, he completed a three-month health care administration internship in Little Falls, Minnesota, just east of Alexandria, at St. Gabriel’s. He focused on collecting data and completing a competitive analysis encompassing other area health care facilities.

Becoming a leader in the Society

Also while in college, Samuelson took a position as a long-term care administration intern with Eventide, a large senior living community in the Fargo-Moorhead area, creating their first corporate compliance program. Samuelson became a part of the leadership team and learned from their visionary CEO.

Growing up, Samuelson was familiar with the Good Samaritan Society because of its significant presence in Minnesota and because some of his relatives lived in Society facilities.

“One of the things that set the Good Samaritan Society apart is the investment it made in its leaders — and still does — with the Administrator-in-Training Program,” he said.

Samuelson completed a six-month internship with the Society in Olathe, Kansas, part of the Kansas City metro area. Then, at age 23, he became an administrator.

A wide-ranging administrative experience

Both his adviser and his regional vice president encouraged him to accept a position, “sight unseen,” in Goodland, “about as far west as you can get in Kansas.”

Though with a population under 5,000 people, Samuelson said, “It was a great opportunity. It forced me to become myself, and being able to connect to the local community was huge as well.” While in Goodland, he helped the Society work through a number of challenges at the site.

A couple years later, when a position opened up in Pipestone, Minnesota, located in the southwest part of the state, he applied since it would allow him to see his family more than a few times a year. It was also a career advancement as he moved from a 60-bed facility to a 98-bed facility with 28 independent living units.

Samuelson accepted the position in Pipestone and, while there, earned his master’s of health administration through Bellevue University, located outside of Omaha.

Added responsibilities

Then, Society leader Tom Syverson offered him a dual role: maintaining administration of Pipestone and taking on nearby Edgerton as well. Edgerton was a managed facility, meaning it had its own board of directors and made decisions in concert with the administrator.

Samuelson remained in this dual role for seven years, until 2015, taking on Luverne, Minnesota, as well in 2012, and becoming an executive director of the three locations.

Samuelson aspired to be a regional vice president, and when an opening came up in South Dakota, “the rest is history.”

An appreciation for variety

Samuelson said that what attracted him to this position is the variety the Good Samaritan Society has.

“I enjoy pulling the campuses together and figuring out how we move our mission forward, and I wanted to do that on a grander scale,” he said.

The Society restructured operations through late summer and early fall, from eight regions that were segmented by service line to 10 regions that encompass all service lines. Consequently, Samuelson has transitioned from regional vice president of South Dakota to regional vice president of Sioux Falls and southwest Minnesota.

In his role, he oversees 15 facilities. As a regional vice president, he:

  • Determines the strategic direction of each of the facilities in his area
  • Connects local facilities to the Society’s National Campus
  • Pays close attention to quality, growth opportunities and financial outcomes
  • Seeks partnerships with legislators, who represent the key payer and regulator for the Society

In the midst of all this work, Samuelson appreciates the wealth of variety that each day brings. He also values being able to profess his faith through his work, which was a central reason he joined the Society.

Change is a team effort

In reflecting on his time with the organization, he pointed to team efforts to meet challenges and views his role as coaching people along the way. His team in Goodland became deficiency-free within two years, Pipestone grew to meet community needs, and Edgerton came together to improve quality and expand services, to name a few.

“It all comes together because of the people that are there,” Samuelson said. “And it’s giving people the tools and the freedom that they need to initiate that change.”

Having gone through the program, Samuelson served as a preceptor for new recruits in the Administrator-in-Training program. As a regional vice president, he assists and mentors those in the AIT program. He enjoys seeing them grow and serve the Society for the long term.

“Ultimately, what I’m most proud of is the people I’ve been able to work with over the last 17 years,” Samuelson said.

Improving the care transition

Looking ahead, Samuelson is excited about the opportunity to work with Sanford Health to expand services to meet the needs of the future.

“If we can make that care transition stronger, families and communities are going to thrive because of it,” he said. “Wherever they call home, how can we take care of them the longest? Our partnership is going to provide the tools and resources so we can take the best that each has and really do great things.”

Get to know Philip Samuelson

  • Education: Concordia College-Moorhead and Bellevue University. He graduated from Concordia’s business administration program, with an emphasis on health care administration and long-term care administration, the same college and program as Sanford Health and Good Samaritan Society leaders Kelby Krabbenhoft, Paul HansonBryan Nermoe and Nate Schema. He earned his master of health administration degree from Bellevue University, located in the suburbs of Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Family: Wife, Haley, a former Society employee, runs her own executive coaching business. They met through the Society. Two boys: Jack, 7, and Caleb, 3.
  • Hobbies: Spending time outdoors with family, camping, watching wildlife, fishing and golfing.

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Posted In Faces of Sanford Health, Senior Services

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