Sanford Health, CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft part ways

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Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 5:47 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Sanford Health has confirmed it’s CEO, Kelby Krabbenhoft, is no longer a part of the organization.

The announcement comes after a week of headlines both locally and nationally about the statement Krabbenhoft made after sending an email to Sanford staff in which he said he would not wear a mask “as a symbolic measure.”

Krabbenhoft said he had tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered. He also claimed he was immune to the virus for at least seven months.

MORE: Sanford: CEO’s opinions about COVID-19 ‘do not reflect view of health system’

Krabbenhoft, who is not a physician, did not explain why he thinks he’s immune. Scientists don’t know if contracting the virus protects against future illness.

Just last month, Krabbenhoft joined the president of Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare, to announce a merger of the two organizations.

MORE: Sanford Health and Intermountain Healthcare announce intent to merge

Krabbenhoft said the merger would improve the health and well-being of communities and strengthen their impact on healthcare. He was set to take on the role of CEO-emeritus following the finalization of the merger.

Krabbenhoft, who is 62, said he planned to retire when he turned 65.

Krabbenhoft assumed the role of president and CEO in 1996 oversaw the organization’s growth into the largest rural non-profit health system in the country.

The Board of Trustees has appointed Bill Gassen president and CEO of Sanford Health. Bill has been with the organization since 2012, most recently serving as chief administrative officer. His appointment is effective immediately.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to work on behalf of the Sanford family and help lead this organization and its life-changing work. Our system’s priorities will be focused on taking care of our people, our patients and the communities we serve,” said Gassen.

Krabbenhoft released a statement Tuesday night saying it’s a good time to say “goodbye”.

You can read his full statement below.

“We decided that today was a good time to retire. Sanford is in a good place, strongest ever. It is Thanksgiving week and almost exactly 25 years since my family came here. It is a good time to say “goodbye.” I came here quietly with three little kids 25 years ago, and now they have given me three great spouses, whom I adore, and seven little ones who I can spoil and love.

I’ve had the chance to honor and praise lots of people and said “no” to any efforts to do so for me while I was working. Living up to the original hopes of Mr. Schroeder has always been important to me. He handed me a successful and precious organization. Now I get to do the same as I depart.”

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