Building Relationships



Brian DeHaai likes helping people. Every day he comes to work as director of clinical operations in Occupational Medicine, he strives to support and inspire employees, employers and patients.

It’s a longstanding character trait, which stems from his years as a nurse. “Really, choosing nursing is about serving other people, and that can be done in many different roles within Sanford as an organization,” says Brian.

He started working at Sanford as a valet just before college in 1989. Concerned he was missing other opportunities outside of Sanford, Brian left for a few years to pursue opportunities at several international institutions.

But he came back. This time for good.

“One of the international companies that I had worked for lured me away for a brief time, and that really is not the culture I was looking for. I realized Sanford really was my home and the culture that I appreciated. So I came back to where I now reside and really enjoy it because I've experienced other cultures and understand and appreciate more what Sanford is all about.”

Good service

Brian is both motivated and challenged by building relationships with employees and patients. He enjoys interacting with different people, and that fuels him on the job.

“In Occupational Medicine specifically, you work a lot with employers as well, and so being able to understand and work with employers as well as having an understanding of patient care helps to provide good service,” he says.

Brian also appreciates that although Sanford currently has more than 20,000 employees, he still knows who’s in the laundry room and who’s slicing pie in the cafeteria.

“I still know people at the medical center that work in laundry, people that work in ICU, in the ER, telemetry, cardiology, rehab. So working at Sanford is about those relationships throughout your career,” he says. “It's not about the one place. They provide that opportunity for you to gain more information and to build that relationship.”

A focus on research and initiatives

Like many leaders at Sanford, Brian respects the many ambitious research initiatives supported by the institution. But one experience that really stands out for the director is having the opportunity to have a hand in shaping the world-class Sanford Heart Hospital, which opened in 2012.

“My focus was on the physician clinics on the main floor but then also integrating with all of the different specialties that are on the different floors and have a better understanding of that process. To be a part of that and to be a part of the technology and the expertise that works on those floors really was a privilege and a great opportunity,” he says.

Family connections

As a leader, Brian works hard to connect his employees together to create teams that know how to work together with excellent patient outcomes always at the top of mind. It’s how he defines his work family.

“Sanford family is about remembering those people that you worked with and then also the people that you work with today and the opportunity that you have to really have that close working relationship and appreciate it,” he says.

Educational opportunities

Brian, like many other Sanford employees, has benefited from education opportunities provided to him by the organization. “My education has come from Sanford itself where they brought speakers in, or I've had the opportunity to listen to national speakers, to speakers that consult on specific venues related to healthcare, and also speakers that speak to the benefit of you being a better person to provide better service, both as an employee and then also in working with each other.”

Lifelong passion

For Brian, the Sanford value that resonates most with him is passion.

“If I can tell you one thing as to why you should come to work at Sanford and work in our healthcare system, it's because we have a passion for people,” he says. “We have a passion for excellence and to strive to be better people ourselves and then to provide that for others as well. That really is what we are about.”

Posted Date: August 2013

Building Relationships

Brian DeHaai, Director of Clinical Operations for Occupational Medicine in Sioux Falls “We have a passion for excellence, strive to be better people ourselves and provide that for others as well. That really is what we are about.”