Health care hero: Dean Kooiman, planning and construction

Longtime manager enthusiastically takes on new projects for Sanford Health

Dean Kooiman’s challenges often arrive without instructions.

Sanford Health’s manager of planning and construction is the Sanford Health’s 2020 Sanford USD Medical Center President’s Leadership Award winner.

As such, Kooiman brings experience, know-how and an enthusiastic knack for creative problem-solving to his job. He also brings good listening skills.

“Communication is a huge thing,” said Kooiman, who came to Sanford in 2003 after owning and operating an electrical construction business for more than a decade. “I have to communicate with directors and I have to communicate with my crew. We all need to continue to have an understanding about what needs to happen to make these projects work.”

Kooiman has been a part of that effort since Sanford Health was Sioux Valley Hospital.

The job is never quite the same two days in a row. The essential toolbox of core talents needed to do it well, however, never changes too much.

“Dean comes to work optimistic and with a smile on his face, which makes for better culture and better teams,” said Craig Creighton, Sanford Health senior communication technician. “He is prepared and ready to help in whatever way he can.”

A spirit of cooperation

Let’s say Sanford needs to re-purpose an area to suit changing needs. What happens next is a collaboration between those who will be working in the renovated space and those who will do the renovating.

“Dean always has a great attitude even when a situation gets difficult,” Creighton said. “When given a busy assignment, he gets the work done. When assignments change, he gets the work done — and he often does it with a joke and a smile.”

Anita Jorgensen, manager of planning and construction described Kooiman’s essential value like this: “Dean is always looking to improve areas within Sanford. He leads his crew to refurbish, repair and build things that will enhance our environment and the patient/guest experience.”

Good work gets Kooiman more opportunities to contribute. For those who continually build on a reputation as a problem-solver, that’s how it works.

“Throughout the Sanford Health organization, people look to Dean for recommendations,” said Eric Kinghorn, director of planning and construction. “Dean is a knowledgeable expert in construction and planning, but his opinions hold the highest regard because he also exudes confidence and positivity. He has that ability to draw you in and make you want to listen.”

Good leaders understand what goes into being a good teammate. On that count, Kooiman demonstrates the capacity to see the big picture while focusing on a series of small ones.

“He has a distinct skill with empowering his team,” Creighton said. “His employees know specifically how they contribute to the overall success of the department and organization. He is quick to include employees in developing project goals. He makes sure they feel valued for their work.”

Teamwork and quality

Kooiman was invaluable during a recent top-to-bottom refurbishing that included six floors with four wings per floor within the Sanford USD Medical Center. The project demanded efficient progress, collaboration with both internal and external teams and an accurate cost assessment. It also demanded meeting the high standards Kooiman’s staff has established over the years.

“We were able to do a job the crew was very proud of,” Kooiman said. “We knew we’d completed it at the highest quality we could.”

Taking pride in the work of his staff has been a constant within a job that otherwise varies radically from day to day. There are short-term small projects and long-term large ones. Both kinds have a significant impact on how people go about their work in a hospital.

“I’ve been extremely happy with my job here,” Kooiman said. “I’m very proud to be a Sanford employee. I work with a lot of wonderful people.”

Sanford Health Sioux Falls employees of the year

Sanford Health also recognized the following employees in the Sioux Falls region:

  • Kim Martens, registered nurse manager, administrative innovation employee of the year
  • Michelle Ahnberg, clinical nurse specialist, clinical innovation employee of the year
  • Lisa Brunk, senior gift shop associate, business employee of the year
  • Lori K. Anliker, registered nurse, women’s health employee of the year
  • Natalie A. Braun, certified nurse practitioner, clinical employee of the year
  • Nicole Grossenburg, physician, physician of the year
  • Robin Anderson, administrative assistant, support services employee of the year
  • Trecia Gulseth, clinical CRNA leader, nurse anesthetist of the year
  • Kasey Gauthier, registered nurse, pediatric oncology employee of the year
  • Rebecca A. Kokesh, registered nurse, intensive care nursery employee of the year
  • Alex Overweg, registered nurse, nurse of the year
  • Megan Permann, registered nurse, rising star nurse of the year
  • Melanie Rusche, director, management employee of the year
  • Nancy Schoen, director communication services, veteran advocate employee of the year
  • Kristin Siepkes, clinical learning and development specialist, outstanding surgical services employee of the year
  • Brian Vanderbush, lead accountant, business employee of the year
  • Amy Rave, manager, employee of the year

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Posted In Awards & Recognition, Non-Clinical Support Services, Sanford Stories, Sioux Falls