Sanford Health timeline: Rented house to regional network

Starting as Sioux Falls' only hospital, system marks 125 years of patient care

A baby boy lies in a bassinet in this black and white photo from 1930.
Sanford USD Medical Center logo: 125 years, 1894-2019

Take a look at significant events in the history of Sanford Health, reaching from the root of an idea of a hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota — the only hospital there at the time — to the vision of a network that expands across the world.

Foundational years, 1893–1925

1893 — The World’s Fair in Chicago brings tales of medical progress back home to Sioux Falls. Many residents commit themselves to establishing a hospital. Dr. Arne Zetlitz, surgeon in charge, with a board of Lutheran clergy and physicians, is instrumental in developing a new hospital.

1894 — The Seney House, at 924 W. Fourth St., is the first location of Sioux Falls Hospital. (It’s still standing and in use as a private residence.) The first patient, Rachel Mansaker, arrives after considerable persuasion — since hospitals were viewed more as places to die then, she had first requested to go to the penitentiary instead.

1898 — Sioux Falls Hospital moves to the Cameron House location at 10th Street and Dakota Avenue. The Sioux Falls Training School for Nurses opens; Gena Stevens is the first graduate.

1900 — The newly renamed Sioux Falls Lutheran Hospital locates to 19th Street and Minnesota Avenue as the first building in South Dakota constructed as a hospital.

1915 — A three-story wing is added, increasing the capacity to 50.

1916 — Nursing School graduates form the Alumni Association in 1916.

Becoming Sioux Valley, 1925–1961

1925 — The Rev. A. O. Fonkalsrud is appointed hospital administrator and begins plans with the board to raise $100,000 for a new hospital.

1926 — The name changes to Sioux Valley Hospital Association, representing its status as a hospital of the community, following the merger of Sioux Falls Lutheran Hospital and Bethany Association.

1930 — Construction of the new hospital is complete. The first baby boy, Spencer Valere Hollis Brende, and first baby girl, Maxine Berniece Nodland, are born at Sioux Valley Hospital. Nodland would later graduate from Sioux Valley Hospital Nursing School.

1931 — The Rev. C. M. Austin replaces the Rev. Fonkalsrud as hospital administrator.

1947 — Sioux Valley is approved by the American Medical Association.

1948 — Polio outbreak hits the region; 20 iron lungs are used to help patients breathe.

1958 — Jack Rogers becomes hospital administrator.

1959 — Lorraine Cross, purchased by the Hospital Auxiliary, shines as Sioux Valley Hospital’s symbol of health, hope and healing.

1960 — Ann Berdahl Hall is built as a student nursing dormitory, named in honor of a hospital superintendent and School of Nursing director.

Years of expansion, 1961–1997

1961 — Lyle Schroeder begins tenure as administrator, spanning 36 years.

1964 — The new West Wing opens.

1973 — Sioux Valley Hospital’s heart and chevron logo is adopted.

1975 — Sioux Empire Medical Museum opens, a project of the Nursing School Alumni Association.

1976 — Intensive Air medical transport commences and becomes the largest in the region.

1984 — Sioux Valley Hospital Foundation is formed to receive and manage charitable gifts.

1986 — The last class of Sioux Valley School of Nursing graduates; the school trained a total of 2,160 nurses. Sioux Valley becomes a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, joining more than 200 other children’s hospitals in the nation.

1989 — The Sioux Valley Wellness Center opens, first of its kind in the state. Sioux Valley Network forms and enters a lease with Dakota Hospital Foundation in Vermillion, exemplifying Sioux Valley’s regional health care role.

1990 — The new Sioux Valley Heart Center opens.

1993 — Sioux Valley Hospital celebrates 100 years of service.

1994 — Dr. John C. Vanderwoude, cardiac surgeon, performed the first pediatric open-heart procedure.

Arriving at significance, 1997–2003

1997 — Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System is formed. Lyle Schroeder retires. Kelby Krabbenhoft is hired as system president and CEO. Becky Nelson is named president of Sioux Valley Hospital.

1998 — Intensive Air transport team Merton Tiffany, Shannon Nolte and Missy Wittry die in the line of duty during a flight Aug. 20. Sioux Valley Health Plan is established to provide innovative health insurance programs.

1999 — Sioux Valley Hospital is renamed Sioux Valley Hospital USD Medical Center, reflecting its role as the primary teaching hospital for the University of South Dakota School of Medicine.

2000 — New Trauma 5 Emergency facilities open, featuring five emergency service specialties. Locken Lobby is dedicated.

2001 — The Memorial Garden and Chapel is dedicated in memory of the Intensive Air transport team that died during a flight. Sioux Valley Clinic is founded with a merger of Sioux Valley Physician Alliance and Central Plains Clinic. Sioux Valley Hospital USD Medical Center’s Women’s Birth Place opens.

2003 — Sioux Valley Hospitals & Health System grows to 25 hospitals, 92 clinics and more than 300 physicians. The first phase of the Sioux Valley Cancer Center, including radiation therapy, is completed. Sioux Valley completes its comprehensive plan for Centers of Excellence in Heart, Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, Cancer, Women’s and Children’s.

A pivotal relationship, 2003–2012

2004 — Kelby Krabbenhoft announces Denny Sanford’s $16 million challenge gift to start the construction of a new state-of-the-art children’s hospital.

2005 — Denny Sanford contributes $20 million to support further development of the Sanford School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota.

2006 — Expansion at the medical center includes a $55 million surgical center. The Boekelheide Neonatal Intensive Care Unit opens.

2007 — Kelby Krabbenhoft announces Denny Sanford’s gift of $400 million to Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System, the single largest gift ever given to a health care organization. The health system’s name is changed to Sanford Health. The new Women’s Health Plaza opens.

2008 — Following the selection of type 1 diabetes as the Sanford Project, Todd and Linda Broin announce their $10 million gift to fund the Sanford Project Chair position to support a full-scale research effort to find a cure.

2009 — Sanford Children’s Hospital, the “Castle of Care,” opens. Sanford Health buys a 300,000-square-foot building in northeast Sioux Falls to house its rapidly expanding Sanford Project and Sanford Research initiatives, along with corporate offices. The first of Sanford Children’s Clinics opens in Duncan, Oklahoma. Sanford Health becomes the largest integrated, nonprofit, rural health care system in the nation following the merger of Sanford Health and MeritCare Health System of Fargo, North Dakota.

2011 — Sanford Health completes a merger with North Country Health Services in Bemidji, Minnesota, establishing Sanford Bemidji. Denny Sanford provides a $100 million gift to establish the Edith Sanford Breast Center initiative.

Realizing and growing the vision, 2012–present

2012 — The $77 million Sanford Heart Hospital is completed, representing the largest project at Sanford USD Medical Center. The first Sanford Profile store opens its doors in Sioux Falls. Sanford establishes its first international operation World Clinic locations in Ghana. Sanford Health completes a merger with Medcenter One in Bismarck, North Dakota.

2013 — The Sanford Sports Complex includes the $22 million Sanford Pentagon, Sanford Fieldhouse, Sanford Sports Medicine, and community football, tennis and ice sports venues.

2014 — Sanford Imagenetics is announced with a $125 million gift from Denny Sanford.

2016 — Sanford performs the first adult stem cell therapy. Sanford Health and Denny Sanford receive the Pontifical Key Innovation Award at the Vatican Conference on Progress of Regenerative Medicine. Edith Sanford Breast Center opens its doors.

2012–2017 — Other campus expansions include Sanford Cancer Center, Van Demark Building, Ronald McDonald House, Make-A-Wish and Ava’s House (adult and pediatric hospice), as well as Sanford Clinic facilities.

2017 — The $500 million Sanford Fargo Medical Center opens. Sanford Imagenetics building is completed. Sanford House, a tribute to Denny Sanford, opens on the Sanford Center campus.  Sanford Health announces the upcoming $1 million Sanford Lorraine Cross Award.

2018 — The expansion of  World Clinics is announced, with six new clinics opening: New Zealand, Ireland, China, Vietnam, Costa Rica and South Africa. The Good Samaritan Society agrees to combine with Sanford Health. The Sanford International in Sioux Falls brings the first PGA Tour Champions event to South Dakota. The inaugural Sanford Lorraine Cross Award is given to blindness researchers Jean Bennett and Katherine High.

2019 — The affiliation between Sanford Health and Good Samaritan Society is completed. Sanford Health and the Veterans Administration announce a partnership to offer pharmacogenetic testing to U.S. veterans at no cost, thanks in part to a $25 million gift from Denny Sanford. Denny Sanford receives an award from Research America for his philanthropy. Sanford Health and UnityPoint Health, based in Iowa, sign a letter of intent to combine.

Sources: History Wall at Sanford USD Medical Center; “An Institution of Organized Kindness” book by Narcy Recker; Sanford Health Marketing

More about the hospital’s history

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