Sam D. Huenergardt, who has deep roots in Denver and the Mid-America Union, was recently named Chief Executive Officer of Centura’s Parker Adventist Hospital on the southeast side of Denver. Although Sam is new to the Denver cluster of hospitals, he is no stranger to Adventist Health System and its mission, “Extending the healing ministry of Christ.”

Sam enjoyed growing up in a traditional Adventist home in the small town of Kimble, Nebraska (pop. 2,573). His father, an attorney, served as religious liberty counsel for the Mid-America Union, and Sam enjoyed the family’s frequent visits from Adventist dignitaries. He fondly recalls Gordon Retzer, now retired president of the Southern Union, playing the piano in their living room.

Huenergardt attended an Adventist elementary school in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and grew up working on farms where he gained a strong work ethic that has served him well. He attended Platte Valley Academy like his grandmother and great-grandfather, who graduated in 1923 with PVA’s first graduating class. He is a fourth-generation (on both sides of his family) graduate from Union College, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration. Later he completed an MBA from Baker University in Overland Park, Kansas.

During his sophomore year at Union, a presentation by Jim Gravell, then Chief Financial Officer of Hinsdale Adventist Hospital in Illinois, deeply influenced Huenergardt. Gravell shared the need for strong leaders in Adventist hospitals, a concept that immediately took root in Sam’s heart. He spoke with Gravell afterward, started dreaming of working in Adventist healthcare, and eventually landed an internship at Hinsdale the following summer. Since then he has enjoyed more than 15 years of progressive leadership at seven different hospitals within the Adventist Health System, including Florida Hospital in Orlando, Parkridge Hospital in North Carolina, and Shawnee Mission Hospital in Kansas.

Huenergardt’s most recent post was as CEO of Central Texas Medical Center in San Marcos, Texas. Prior to that, he served for five years as the CEO and CFO of Gordon Hospital in Calhoun, Georgia.

“Coming to the Denver area seems a bit like coming home,” he says. “My grandmother, Dorothy Huenergardt, worked at Porter Adventist Hospital with [Porter Adventist Hospital president] Morre Dean’s mother.”

Dean had the privilege of presenting Huenergardt as Parker’s incoming CEO, saying, “Sam’s ability to build relationships and influence people in a positive way were key attributes that distinguished him as he met with physicians, associates and board members of Parker Adventist Hospital. His focus on team dynamics while valuing each individual was evident during his visits to Parker. In addition, he has a passion for community relationships that will translate well into our existing partnerships, as well as our great community.”

Huenergardt is grateful for the opportunity to serve at the beautiful facility in Parker. “We have 1,100 employees working in our halls,” he says. “A small percentage of them are Seventh-day Adventist, but 100 percent of them carry the mission.”

The hospital opened its doors in 2004, and has since been in a constant building phase. “There have only been three months when it hasn’t been under construction,” Huenergardt shares. “They’ve been in high-growth mode since the very beginning, adding new services and modalities to improve the care we provide our community. We need to keep our feet on the gas.”

Sam is quick to explain, however, that it’s the mission, not the building, that sets Parker apart. “Centura has taken a big leap forward with population health. We have to keep moving forward. We have to find ways to keep people healthy rather than just treat them when they are sick. Our mission statement is profound. It guides what we do. We live the mission statement. It’s not just something printed on a boardroom wall; it comes up in our daily conversations.”

This article was submitted by Stephen King, senior vice president for the Rocky Mountain Adventist Health/Centura Health, where he serves the five Adventist hospital campuses in Colorado. It was written by Mark Bond.

Photo: Sam Huenergardt comes to Parker Adventist Hospital with his wife, Melissa (Hartman), who grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and their two children, Christian (9) and Chloe (7). Photo courtesy AHS.