SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Sanford Health has received a $300 million gift from its chief patron, T. Denny Sanford, that will be used to "transform rural health care delivery for generations," the health system announced Friday, March 15.
The $300 million gift from the billionaire credit card mogul and philanthropist to the Sioux Falls, SD-based health system named for him will fund expansion of medical education, the Sanford Sports Complex in Sioux Falls and create a "state-of-the-art virtual hospital" according to the health system.
“This initiative will allow us to bring transformative health care opportunities to the rural Midwest,” said Bill Gassen, president and CEO of Sanford Health, in a news release. "We’re focused on thinking big and pursuing bold, innovative endeavors to meet the needs of our patients, our people and the communities we serve. This effort will position Sanford Health as a global leader in rural care delivery, allow us to bring top clinicians to our region and enhance the health and well-being of the communities we serve.”
Sanford Health includes 44 hospitals across the upper Midwest, including major medical centers in Sioux Falls, Fargo, and in Bemidji, Minn., as well as more than 200 Good Samaritan senior care facilities in 26 states and nine countries.
The initiative funded by the donation will first pay for the expansion of graduate medical education, by creating eight new graduate medical residencies and fellowships in critical specialty areas -- all meant to strengthen the workforce in the region.
The donation will also pay to expand the Sanford Sports Complex in Sioux Falls, opening up year-round athletic opportunities with new baseball, baseball and softball fields. The expanded use of the complex should draw approximately 1 million new visitors over five years, Sanford Health said.
The large donation will also fuel the development of "one of the world's leading virtual hospitals" that will provide care in rural and underserved areas of the Midwest inside and outside Sanford Health's current footprint.
“This initiative will transform the health care experience for those in rural areas, bringing affordable, comprehensive and seamless medical care to people no matter where they call home,” said Dr. Jeremy Cauwels, chief physician at Sanford Health.
Sanford's giving to Sanford Health now tops $1 billion. Sanford had largely avoided the public eye -- but has continued his giving to various organizations -- after a ProPublica report in August linked him to a past child pornography investigation, although he never faced charges. Sanford, a golf enthusiast, was notably absent from the Sanford Health-sponsored Sanford International PGA Tour Champions golf tournament held in Sioux Falls in September.
“Today I am renewing my commitment to my most cherished charitable cause, Sanford Health,” said Sanford, in the Sanford Health news release. “I have a deep appreciation for the life-changing mission of Sanford Health and its work locally and around the globe, and my gift will ensure it continues to be a vital asset across our region for generations to come.”