It was the late 1990s and Michael Landes was looking for an opportunity to stay in the desert. He spent the majority of his childhood living in various countries around the world: Ankara, Turkey, The Hague, Holland, England and Singapore. He also spent his early career running a company recording educational programs across the country.
It was time to put some roots down.
“I’ve always liked the idea of being an entrepreneur. Once Stephanie and I were married, we wanted to be near family, which was here in the desert,” Landes says.
“Peter Drucker, one of my old professors, said, ‘You know, Michael, you really ought to focus on trying to do good for the world instead of trying to get wealthy.’ My good friend, Greg Renker, introduced me to Eisenhower Health after my service in City Council politics in Indian Wells, and I’ve been here now for just over 22 years.”
Eisenhower Health is Coachella Valley’s only not-for-profit hospital. The organization is the largest employer in the Valley with more than 4,000 employees and another 700 on a per-diem basis.
As President of the Eisenhower Health Foundation, Landes is tasked with engaging the community and raising funds to create an acclaimed health provider delivering world-class medical care to its patients. “It is not just about philanthropy. We want the community to understand what we are doing and not only support it but be inspired. My job is about sharing the story of Eisenhower Health and getting people to care enough to do something about it.”
Landes distinctly remembers sitting in on a clinical procedure in his early days with Eisenhower Health, watching a young doctor dissipate a blockage in the brain of a stroke patient.
“I watched Dr. Brian Herman thread a catheter into the brain of a patient. I saw him open up the blood flow.
It was incredible to watch, I mean I saw the patient’s face change and actually start speaking again. It was amazing,” Landes says. “That made me realize what we really do is save and change lives. Our relationship with a philanthropist helped make that happen by purchasing that sophisticated medical system.”
The Eisenhower Health Foundation’s current effort is raising $250 million to build a world-class Cardiovascular Institute. In the first 12 months it has raised nearly $90 million.
The current cardiovascular service line sees more than 130,000 patients a year.
“We have grown from being a pretty good hospital, to being a top hospital in the United States. That is what philanthropy can do. We have always had a good reputation, but clinically now we are one of the top cardiovascular hospitals, one of the top orthopedic hospitals, and one of the top patient care hospitals in the United States,” says Landes. “Patient care is our true north. Patient care leads to excellence, excellence leads to great outcomes, great outcomes leads to grateful patients, and grateful patients leads to giving.”
Landes says he’s looking forward to what the future holds for Eisenhower Health, and wants to do anything to help promote its growth. It’s one of the reasons he’s working on completing a Masters in Theology from Fuller Seminary. “I used to think the skills of business, like finance and organizational management, were the things you needed to be successful. But nowadays, I think less so of that and more about how you care and love people.”