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Krabbenhoft Out as Sanford CEO; Spectators Out at Sanford Basketball Tourney

Wow—after Sanford Health CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft brazenly kicked the legs out from under his organization’s pledge to promote mask-wearing to fight coronavirus in South Dakota and his own medical staff’s public health recommendations, Sanford Health has announced the Krabbenhoft is out:

The Board of Trustees has announced that Sanford Health and longtime CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft have mutually agreed to part ways.

…The Board of Trustees has appointed Bill Gassen president and CEO of Sanford Health. Gassen has been with the organization since 2012, most recently serving as chief administrative officer. His appointment is effective immediately [Paul Heinert, “Sanford Health and CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft Agree to Part Ways,” Sanford Health press release, 2020.11.24].

Sanford Health, Governance and Leadership webpage, already scrubbed of Krabbenhoft's stain, screen cap 2020.11.24.
Sanford Health, Governance and Leadership webpage, already scrubbed of Krabbenhoft’s stain, screen cap 2020.11.24.

In other action to keep South Dakotans safe from coronavirus, Sanford Health yesterday announced that it is refunding all tickets and locking out spectators at its Thanksgiving break college basketball tournament:

Sanford Health and tournament officials with the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic have made the decision not to allow fans at the men’s and women’s tournaments scheduled for Nov. 25-30 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“The situation involving COVID-19 continues to change, and at this point the safest thing we can do for the fans is to allow them to watch the Sanford Pentagon games from home. We believe the bubble atmosphere can keep the players and coaches safe, but the situation with COVID-19 in the community requires keeping people apart,” said Jeremy Cauwels, M.D., senior vice president of clinic quality at Sanford Health. “We realize that many people who were planning to make the trip to Sioux Falls will be disappointed, but we believe this is the right decision for all involved” [Paul Heinert, “Crossover Classic Will Not Allow Fans at Basketball Games,” Sanford Health press release, 2020.11.23].

Meanwhile, the doctors and nurses at Sanford facilities and other hospitals around the state continue to do the real work of fighting the pandemic, putting their own lives on the line to protect a community whose leaders have set entirely the wrong tone to rally real resistance to coronavirus.


  1. Scott 2020-11-24

    The Board apparently is much smarter than Kelby.

    Too bad Noem can not be gotten rid off this week also.

  2. Curt 2020-11-24

    Gassen, an intelligent and ethical man, will be a huge improvement.

  3. Bob Newland 2020-11-24

    COVID didn’t kill me; it just made me tone-deaf. —Kelby Krabbenlost

  4. robin friday 2020-11-24

    I nearly choked on my saltines when I heard him claim that he wasn’t personally able to characterize Covid in SD as a “crisis” because by god, he’s been in crises, and Covid didn’t qualify. Then proceeded to define crisis as war-zone or 9-11 type scenes. I’m not connected to Sanford in any way, but I’m not sorry to see him go, and not surprised, either.

  5. Underthehill 2020-11-24

    Someone with 25 years of service like Krabbenhoft doesn’t get forced out over one stupid email. There’s more to this story. And then there’s Noem that was going to use Krabbenhoft’s words big time for fundraising. What to do now?

  6. DS 2020-11-25

    “If you see me without a mask, it’s because I, along with many others who have worn masks, have already had COVID. Should we be forced to wear a mask and fined and or jailed if we don’t? No logic there” …rc jOURNAL 2CENTSWORTH TODAY….


  7. Jennifer 2020-11-25

    Good riddance-I was flabbergasted when I read Krabbenhoft’s idiotic email.

  8. Kristi Quaintance 2020-11-25

    I’ve had Covid, probably still have antibodies, but I wear a mask always because (1) it’s a crazy, unpredictable virus and you can’t trust it will follow a normal path and (2) I don’t want to be lumped in with the idiot freedom screamers.

  9. Jenny 2020-11-25

    25 years as CEO for Sanford is way too long, the average CEO tenure for a company is 5-7 years. There were rumors back in 2018 of of their $1,000,000/yr CEO Krabbenhoft being ousted.

    Frankly, I’m so used to reading stupid comments like Krabbenhoft’s coming out of SD that I wasn’t that surprised. I was more surprised that Sanford did the right thing. Gassen looks young so they probably plan on having him for just as long.

  10. Mark Anderson 2020-11-25

    You can still watch the USD women take on numero uno South Carolina online, I do. Lamb will lead them to the slaughter.

  11. Fast Eddy 2020-11-25

    Glad Krabbenhoft is gone. Glad the health care workers remain. In my opinion Sanford has great employees but over the years the Sanford business model has driven away many who made fine contributions. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to see new physicians because of the turnover. As for why he left, I have been watching the dominos fall for a while now so I believe it was a collection of issues. Getting in trouble with the federal and state government is not the path to a big retirement party.

  12. Fast Eddy 2020-11-25

    When I spoke to my elderly isolated relative about Kelby and the national coverage she replied, somewhat sarcastically, “I’m so proud, so very proud.” That’s pretty much what I feel about Kelby, Killer Kristi, and the Republican legislature. Not to mention the various fools running some schools, cities, and counties. A majority of voters have elected or hired fools to run things and if we don’t learn this hard lesson, we are done for.

  13. TAG 2020-11-25

    @Kristi Q: “I wear a mask always because (1) it’s a crazy, unpredictable virus and you can’t trust it will follow a normal path and (2) I don’t want to be lumped in with the idiot freedom screamers.”

    Good for you, and I’ll add a #3: Immunity to Covid doesn’t mean you can’t still carry and transmit the virus to others.

    I would have loved it if the Docs at Sanford or Angela Kenneke would have countered with this fact.

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