Denny Sanford donates largest gift ever to health care

South Dakota businessman Denny Sanford has set a new standard in healthcare philanthropy with an unprecedented gift of $400 million to Sioux Valley Hospitals & Health System. To acknowledge the expansion and enhancement of its mission as a result of the initiatives made possible by Mr. Sanford’s gift, the Sioux Valley Board of Trustees unanimously voted to re-name the healthcare system Sanford Health.

We are grateful for Mr. Sanford’s continued support of what we can accomplish in the years ahead and his confidence in our ability to achieve extraordinary outcomes,” said Kelby Krabbenhoft, Sanford Health President and CEO. “As the region’s leading healthcare system, we will continue to focus on providing the highest level of patient care and the expansion of medical services. Mr. Sanford’s generosity will have broad and lasting benefits to healthcare and medical research not onlyhere in our region, but throughout the United States and beyond.”

As part of the transformational announcement, Sanford Health announced it will use the $400 million to fund several initiatives:

  • Investment in Children will establish five Sanford Pediatric Clinics across the country and will be fully integrated and linked with the facilities, programs, services and pediatric specialists at the Sanford Children’s Hospital;
  • Sanford Research/USD (formerly South Dakota Health Research Foundation) will expand its five research institutes and create the Sanford Pediatric Research Institute to focus on the health research needs of children;
  • The Sanford Project will convene a blue ribbon commission of leading experts to identify the most promising area for focused medical research on one pressing healthcare issue; and then assemble top scientists to undertake that specific research project, using Mr. Sanford’s funds to demonstrate capability and success that will attract funds from sources such as the National Institutes of Health;
  • Sanford Healthcare Campus of the Future will implement a new approach to healthcare campus and facility design supporting the expansive healthcare services, medical research and educational activities of the system. Over time, more than 20 separate specialized facilities will be built around a world class medical center in Sioux Falls.

“I am pleased to make a gift with the potential to have a lasting, positive impact on the health and well-being of children and adults in South Dakota and throughout the country,” said Sanford. “South Dakota and its great people have been instrumental in my business and personal success. I’m at a time in my life where I want to do something significant to honor and reward their contributions. I am very honored to have Sanford Health as a vehicle I can depend on to achieve significant advances in healthcare services and medical research that improve their lives and the lives of their descendents for generations to come. I can think of no better investment than to financially empower those who have ably demonstrated their ability to set high goals and achieve them.”

Sanford is CEO of United National Corporation, First Premier Bank, and Premier Bankcard, headquartered in Sioux Falls.

In 2005, the 71-year-old businessman ranked 14th on the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of America’s Most-Generous Donors. Mr. Sanford has given more than $70.5 million to U.S. charitable causes, including $20-million to Sioux Valley Hospitals & Health System for use in expansion projects involving the University of South Dakota’s School of Medicine. In 2006, Mr. Sanford was named to Business Week’s list of 50 most generous philanthropists.

Sanford also completed a gift of $16 million to support construction of Sanford Children’s Hospital, scheduled to open on the Sioux Falls campus in 2009. He gave $15 million to a joint program between Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls and the Mayo Foundation, in Rochester, MN to address pediatric care.

His longstanding relationship with Sioux Valley, its visionary leadership and substantial organization played a key role in making this current gift a reality.

“Now is the time to set things in motion that can truly make a difference in people’s lives,” Sanford said. “My greatest desire is that this gift will create and sustain a momentum that results in major healthcare innovations and improvements in the human condition for generations to come.”

About Sanford Health

Sanford Health’s comprehensive, integrated system includes more than 340 physicians in 115 clinics, 24 hospitals, 13 nursing homes, 17 assisted living facilities and congregate living locations, 27 home health services and 19 pharmacies. With some 12,000 employees, Sanford Health is the largest employer in the region. Its primary 500-bed nonprofit tertiary care hospital in Sioux Falls, SD, serves an average of more than 50,000 inpatients annually. With more than a million outpatient visits each year, Sanford Health has served the 60,000 square mile, four-state region of South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska for over 110 years. Sanford Health is the largest healthcare system between Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and Denver, CO. Its divisions include Sanford USD Medical Center, Sanford Clinic, Sanford Regional Health, Sanford Health Plan and Sanford Health Foundation.

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