There is a group of Sanford employees who were recognized for going above and beyond the work they do as caregivers.
They are called Sanford brand ambassadors and, according to the program description, they embody the spirit of the brand and the purpose of the organization: health, treatment and service to patients and residents, communities and each other.
The annual program selects 20 inductees each year and is now in its second year.
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Sanford Health News caught up with a few of the brand’s first ambassadors to learn more about what it means to be a part of this group.
What it means to be a Sanford Brand Ambassador
Felix Nyangamoi, one of the inaugural ambassadors, said one of his favorite memories was meeting the other ambassadors from across the region.
The first group of 20 took a surprise trip to Nashville in February 2021. The 2022 brand ambassadors took a surprise trip to Austin, Texas.
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“Becoming a brand ambassador has made me feel like I’m part of this organization, I’m part of this great enterprise and I can help advance the mission and values by interacting with people every day,” Nyangamoi told Sanford Health News.
Irosha Banagala shares this opinion.
She moved to the United States from Sri Lanka and is grateful to have found a home at Sanford Health in Fargo, North Dakota.
“We dream of going to college, graduating, getting a great job, but this was something I never expected,” Banagala said. “Being an ambassador to represent this great organization is something I will never forget in my life.”
As a training and development specialist, Banagala assists new employees during orientation. It’s a position that matches her passion and pride.
“I am a very small person in this large organization, but the level of support and gratitude I have received from the people I work with and from management for my dedication and commitment to this organization is unparalleled,” she said. “Working here at Sanford Health means so much to me because I feel appreciated. I feel valued. My voice matters regardless of my position. I feel like I belong to this organization, but most importantly, the work I do is so meaningful. That’s why I always take incomparable pride in what I do here at Sanford.”
Turning pride into purpose
As a caregiver in Bemidji, Minnesota, Heather Chiwczynski, NP, the concept is simple. She thinks of each patient as a member of her own family, neighbor or friend.
“I make sure I’m doing the best for them,” Ciwczynski said.
“We are the gatekeeper of their experience at our facility, and working in oncology, it is a privilege to be able to care for these patients at perhaps a time when they are most vulnerable. So, number one, we always have to put the patient first. We need to think about their experience from the moment they walk through our door to the moment they leave and make sure we give them the best possible care.”
Specializing in oncology now, she treats blood disorders and all types of cancer.
Examples of what this brand ambassador looks like in action include a few extra minutes in the exam room, a smile, helping patients in the hallway. Many of her patients come to her in their roughest moments.
“Anyone from start to finish can change the way a patient interacts that day,” she explained. “And so I think one of the most important things that we can all focus on is the patient experience from the moment they walk into our facility to the moment they leave, and really that’s what this job at healthcare.’
From the clinic to the offices, Nyangamoi, who is a training and development specialist in Sioux Falls, says his team knows him as an ambassador for the Sanford brand.
“We have to respect each other. We should help each other. We need to value each other’s teamwork,” Nyangamoi said.
Sanford Ambassadors not only act as ongoing brand advocates in and out of offices, clinics and hospitals, but are also champions and will serve as advisors, giving voice to our story as an organization throughout the year.
“It was just something that made me feel like a part of this organization. I am part of this great enterprise. I can help advance the mission and values of this organization by interacting with people every day, whether it’s my colleagues here or people in my department.”
Set an example for others
Czywczynski had worked at Sanford Health in Bemidji for just three months before being nominated for her work, then in an outpatient COVID-19 infusion.
“You don’t have to work here for years and years and years to be recognized for the things you do and make a difference in the eyes of the employees around you,” she said.
Helping new hires in Fargo, Banagala encourages them to set the bar.
“You don’t have to speak perfect English to be a role model,” she said. “I always tell them to be that positive influence. I always tell them to go the extra mile to help someone and most importantly do the right thing when no one is watching out for you.”
Nyangamoi says doing the right thing affects not only our colleagues, but also our patients and residents who receive their care at Sanford Health.
“Anyone who comes here will see that this is a good place,” he said. “They see how we treat them and how we treat each other as colleagues. It became my passion. I just love doing it.”
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Posted in Company News, People & Culture, Sanford Stories