Sanford, Fairview Health merger faces political, regulatory hurdles

Sanford, Fairview Health merger faces political, regulatory hurdles
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 12:06 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -While the conversations between Sanford Health and Fairview Health Services have been underway for quite some time, a letter released today solidifies the goal, according to Sanford CEO Bill Gassen.

“Both parties and our boards who govern the organization have come together to say that we intend to bring the organizations together,” said Gassen.

The plan is to create a larger scope of healthcare for patients.

“Sanford Health has been delivering world-class care in rural communities to the more urban metropolitan communities where Fairview is accustomed to delivering those services,” said Gassen.

A merger between the two groups fell through nearly a decade ago. Non-profit consultant Michael Wyland of Sumption & Wyland has followed Sanford’s progress and attempted mergers in the past, including the last attempt at a merger with Fairview.

“It’s the second bite at the apple. Sanford and Fairview attempted to merge in 2013. They were unsuccessful at that time,” said Wyland.

Both healthcare systems have grown and have more to offer each other.

“The new telehealth approaches now under development at Sanford are being cited as one of the key benefits of the merger,” said Wyland.

Gassen says the $350 million virtual care initiative will allow us to not only utilize the providers who at Sanford but also be able to deliver virtually many of the services that they provide at Fairview health services.

Alex Kacik of Industry publican Modern Healthcare sees how the merger could benefit both sides.

According to Kacik, Sanford’s access to the University of Minnesota would provide many opportunities.

“The research components some access to grant funding, potentially some long-term health when it comes to stabilizing the workforce to be able to pull from there, and then Fairview hasn’t had as strong of financial footing. So it makes sense. It would look for a partner to try to stabilize that they have been, you know, running on narrow margins,” said Kacik.

While physicians often carry weight in how a merger moves forward, the Minnesota Attorney General stalled the merger last time.

“The question is what will happen in Minnesota, and how well has Sanford, how well has Fairview done the preliminary work necessary to address the political constituencies that have the ability to stop a merger like this,” said Wyland.

Gassen believes the engagement of everyone involved will make the merger successful.

“Better for all of our communities better for all of our employees and certainly better for all of our patients who are providing care to,” said Gassen.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, Sanford would be the parent company.