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Behind the Scenes of “Sanford 1440—Every Minute a Story”

Get your walking shoes on. It's time to follow a writer and video crew for an inside look at the filming of "Sanford 1440-Every Minute a Story." Then watch the video!

So many questions leading up to June 14: Will employees call the "Sanford 1440" tip lines? Will people say yes when asked to participate? Will video crews be able to capture the most important work at hand-the excellent care of patients?

As a Sanford writer who gets to shadow a video crew, I have even bigger questions: In this single span of time, will there be stories that impress? Moments that inspire? Miracles?

Welcome to the making of Sanford 1440. The 24-hour period-1,440 minutes-on June 14 when video crews spread across Sanford's 130,000-mile footprint to capture a day in the life of Sanford Health.

"From the beginning we knew this was an enormous-and important-project," says Andrew Richburg, Sanford marketing executive vice-president. "We want to share the untold stories that unfold here every day. Sanford 1440 gives a glimpse at the incredible people and communities that inspire us each day."

Preparation began months in advance-bringing together 13 video crews, informing employees, establishing "newsrooms" in Fargo and Sioux Falls.

Cameras roll-5 a.m.

"It's been a slow start, but things are picking up," says Darren Huber, Sanford media strategy manager and today's assignment editor. Blue post-it notes dot one wall of the newsroom. He points to one: "Dr. Newman-surgery." A video crew is assigned.

"Tom's on that one. You know Tom?" says Darren. I'm glad to say no because I've always liked Darren's descriptions. "He's the guy with the big beard and wild hair. Very cool and great at what he does. You'll love him."

In the hallway outside a maze of operating rooms, I easily spot freelance cinematographer Tom Tollefson. A cross between Santa Claus and Jerry Garcia, he's traveled the world with his camera for almost 40 years. Today he teams up with freelancer Jason Bedard.

Laid back and conversational, Tom's a pro in connecting with his subjects. "For that moment, the person on the other side of the lens is your best friend," he says. "You treat them with respect and empathy-the very same way you'd want to be treated."

Hmm… not so different from health care.

Technology in the OR

Dr. Roxanne Newman, cardiothoracic surgeon, performs surgery to assess a suspicious lesion. Because it's robotic, she maneuvers the instruments ever so precisely at a console in the corner of the room. A surgical team surrounds the patient in the center.

Dressed in required surgical garb, we appear ready for action, but hesitate: Where to stand so we don't interfere? I'm also looking for the best place to faint. Except for "Grey's Anatomy," I've never seen surgery.

With 30 years' experience in medical photography, Sanford's Mike Smith gives excellent direction. He takes his cues from Clarice Babolian, OR circulator, who today goes by the name "video wrangler."

The surgery goes well. Afterward the team quickly, efficiently closes the small wounds where the robotic arms entered. I'm mesmerized and forget all about fainting.

"Thanks everybody," Dr. Newman says to her team. She leaves to deliver good news to a waiting family: the lesion appeared benign.

Celebration in Pediatric Intensive Care

Colorful balloons fill a corner of Noah Bakken's room. When staff learned it was his birthday yesterday, they quickly put together a celebration. "It was pretty fun," says Noah.

The 11-year-old arrived at Sanford Children's three days ago. Sanford LifeFlight transported him following a motocross mishap-and a lacerated liver.

Tom's camera captures Noah's big grin. Later Tom says, "Did you see those sparkly eyes? He looks good considering what he's been through. I think a big part is they do such a good job cheering him up."

Inspiration in outpatient rehab

We arrive at Sanford Rehab to meet Michael Jirak, a semi driver involved in a crash that took his left arm.

After shoulder-strengthening exercises with occupational therapist Michelle Stroh, Michael stands near a table stacked with tackle boxes, fishing rods and an intriguing hunting contraption he and his brother invented.

"I'm not about to give up what I love," says the avid outdoorsman. "Want to see how I tie a fisherman's knot?"

And we did. It was a proud moment.

Watch the video!

These are just a few of 190 life-changing stories captured by video crews on June 14-a huge accomplishment, yet only a fraction of the lives touched by the incredible work of Sanford employees throughout the year.

I was privileged to observe the moments of health and healing that transform lives every day. Now it's your turn: Experience the connection, care, healing and courage that inspire awe in our 20,000 employees and 111 communities.

Watch Sanford 1440: Every Minute a Story

Posted Date: August 2011