At the age of 16, Isaac Sendros took a job as a greeter at what is now AdventHealth Sebring in Sebring, Fla. One day, he noticed a blind man waiting near the entrance. Sam Leonor, CEO of the hospital, approached and began making conversation, keeping the man company while he waited for his ride to arrive. When it was time for the gentleman to go, he asked Leonor what his role was at the hospital. Leonor replied, “I am simply an employee.”
Isaac was struck by the humility in the CEO’s response, and the memory of that day stayed with him long after.
“The level of servant leadership that Mr. Leonor showed me at 16 has shaped my leadership philosophy, and was one of the primary moments I realized healthcare was my calling,” Isaac said.
As CEO of Centura - Avista Adventist Hospital, Isaac’s approach to leadership is deeply rooted in the example of Christ, and he points to a number of profoundly impactful moments, like his observation of Sam Leonor’s humble servant leadership, that have strengthened his faith and shown him the path God has laid out for him.
His faith was initially shaped by the example his parents provided. Cuban immigrants who came to the United States seeking a better life for their family, his parents struggled at times to provide for Isaac and his brother. One day, down to their last 50 cents, they could not even afford to buy milk. Isaac watched as his parents knelt and prayed to God to provide. Later that day, $50 arrived in the mail from a friend who wanted to help support the family.
“The money had been sent days earlier – God had answered their prayer before they even knew to pray for it,” Isaac reflected. “That is the first time I remember seeing the providence of God in action, and it helped me to understand that our job is to pray for guidance, seek understanding and have the faith to trust that God is leading our path.”
Isaac has seen God’s providence and guidance in his life many times since that day. When his first son was born via emergency C-section, Isaac watched, helpless and terrified, as a team of caregivers worked to resuscitate the lifeless child. In that moment, a nurse anesthetist locked eyes with him, wordlessly providing the assurance Isaac needed to remember that he and his family were in good hands – hers, the care team’s, and God’s. That day, Isaac vowed to leave his work in healthcare sales and return to healthcare administration, where his servant leadership could support the invaluable work of caregivers like those who saved his son.
Isaac’s career is marked with many noteworthy accomplishments, including building a $26 million surgical expansion and designing an $84 million tower expansion at AdventHealth Kissimmee, facilitating such success in engagement and retention that he was asked to speak on the subject at a national Becker’s Healthcare Review conference, and, not least, leading a hospital to continue delivering high quality whole person care through the current pandemic. But it is still the small moments in which he sees the light of Christ shine through those around him that are most meaningful to him as a leader.
He vividly recalls a patient with COVID-19 who was admitted to the ICU during the early months of the pandemic. She was intubated for over a month with no signs of improvement. There were days Isaac questioned whether or not she was going to make it. But the incredible caregivers at Avista never lost hope and never faltered in providing the highest quality compassionate care. After 60 days in the ICU, the patient was discharged. As she exited the hospital, caregivers lined the hallways to clap for her. There wasn’t a dry eye among them. Through the Christlike care the associates at Avista delivered, Isaac once again saw the providence of God in action and knew he was exactly where he was meant to be.
“Leadership has no playbook during a pandemic, and I have experienced many days of doubt over the past year. I had moved my family across the country from Florida to Colorado, and in the early months of the pandemic I found myself questioning whether I should have done this,” Isaac said. “Then I spent time reflecting on how God showed his hand in moving our family, and the many signs of affirmation he gave us. I was called to be here for this very moment, to lead during this pandemic, and for me there is no greater honor than knowing I am doing God’s work.”