SUBSCRIBE NOW AND SAVE 3 months just 99 ¢/month



Sanford Health restarts Sweet Dreams campaign

The $2.2 million fundraising goal will support the purchase of Giraffe OmniBeds, Panda Warmers and a NICVIEW camera system for the Boekelheide NICU in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Erin Sanderson. Special To The Globe

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — When Sanford Health Foundation launched a $2.2 million Sweet Dreams fundraising campaign to enhance technology in its Boekelheide neonatal intensive care unit in early 2020, the healthcare industry had no idea that a global pandemic would halt its efforts and shift so much energy into caring for people who contracted COVID-19.

Now, nearly two years into the pandemic, Sanford Health Foundation has relaunched its campaign in hopes of reaching its fundraising goal for the Boekelheide NICU by the end of this year.

An estimated 20% of all NICU patients at Sanford’s Boekelheide unit come in from other regional facilities — including infants born to residents of southwest Minnesota.

Erin Sanderson, executive director of the Sanford Health Foundation, said the Sweet Dreams campaign was relaunched in November, to coincide with Prematurity Awareness Month. Already, more than $1.5 million has been raised toward the $2.2 million goal, making it possible to raise the $700,000 before year’s end.

“One hundred percent of the campaign will benefit our NICU with lifesaving equipment,” Sanderson said, noting that several pieces of equipment currently in the Boekelheide unit are outdated. “We’re just trying to give our NICU a facelift and give our NICU the best outcome for local babies.”


The $2.2 million will be used to purchase 45 new Giraffe OmniBeds, which mimic a mother’s womb to give critically ill and premature babies a carefully controlled environment optimal for growth. In addition, 33 Panda Warmers — used to regulate a baby’s body temperature — will be added to the NICU, as well as a NICVIEW camera system, which will make it possible for families to see their baby in the NICU via a password-protected app. The camera system amounts to about $150,000 of the Sweet Dreams campaign, Sanderson said.

“It’s a beautiful program,” she said, adding that families can log in as often and for as long as they want. “It would have been really convenient to have had it last year during COVID.”

The Giraffe OmniBeds to be purchased are the top-of-the-line, life-saving beds for the smallest of babies, Sanderson said, adding that the beds allow medical doctors and nurses to perform care on the most premature babies without removing them from the environment.

“(The babies) don’t leave the bed until they are fully ready,” she said. “It really serves to be an extension of the mom’s womb.

“We want to make sure every suite at the Boekelheide has access to a Giraffe.”

Sanford Health in Sioux Falls is the only Level 4 NICU in the region, which means it can take the most premature babies — some which weigh under one pound at birth.

“Our net is very wide,” Sanderson said. “We see a lot of babies from outside Sioux Falls.”

That’s why the request for donations is being expanded.


“Every dollar matters,” Sanderson said, adding that with the $1.5 million already raised, orders have been placed for the critical pieces of equipment.

To contribute toward the campaign, visit

Erin Sanderson with Braelynn Tracy from Sheldon, IA, who was born at just 23 weeks and only 11 ounces. Special To The Globe

Related Topics: SANFORD HEALTH
What to read next
An injection of your own fat into the sole of your foot may help plantar fasciitis pain. In this episode of NewsMD's Health Fusion, Viv Williams checks out the details of a new study.
The federal government has mandated 100% staff vaccination in order to receive Medicaid or Medicare funds. That draws closer as 100% of nursing home staff must have their first dose on Thursday, Jan. 27. The state nursing home member association believes 30-35 facilities could face loss of federal funding at the final deadline in March.
Wednesday marked the second day state health officials have reported a daily decline in active cases of COVID-19, or the number of newly reported cases compared to new recoveries.
The state health department on Wednesday, Jan. 26, reported 1,553 hospitalizations and 15,572 new cases of COVID-19.