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News releases

March 26, 2013
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Sanford and Fairview Discussions

Recent attention by the media and inquiry from the Attorney General of Minnesota about Fairview Health and Sanford Health has prompted us to provide clarity about discussions the two parties are having. Sanford and Fairview have only agreed to discussions and exploratory review of each organization. It is an unfortunate description of these timely and well-intended talks as some kind of “takeover” or acquisition. Both Systems have found a unique affinity and early trust, but the complex and a significant process to actually achieve a merger, or combination of similarly sized large organizations must be thoughtfully and carefully done. We hope to start that effort soon.

The matter of “in-State” or “out of State” definitions is another unfortunate characterization, as Sanford is chartered in North Dakota, has well over $1 Billion in revenues in South Dakota, and has over 6,000 employees in Minnesota. If the merger of these two organizations found its new charter in Minnesota, it would not diminish the historic Sanford and might actually enhance service for all.

Fairview Health System-University of Minnesota and Sanford Health have agreed to an informal series of discussions for the purpose of learning more about each organization and possibly exploring the potential of what we each intend for the future. The Health Care industry in the United States can be described as in a period of exploration, consolidation, and strategic reorganization in almost every state and region. The Upper Midwest is no exception to the changes that are redesigning health care nationally and beyond.

Recent growth and restructuring at both organizations make this an incredibly appropriate time to have thoughtful and careful discussions about the future. The leadership transition at Fairview is seen as a reasonable opportunity for combined management discussions without a leader having to be displaced. There is a unique set of common cultural and organizational characteristics that set these two successful and historic organizations, comfortably at the conversation table. The community culture of Fairview, and the similarly oriented Sanford find integration with physicians and the institutions at the heart of their cultures. Coupled then, with the incredible academic and high-end quaternary services provided with the University of Minnesota, the discussions should prove to be enlightening and comfortable at the same time. Recent forays into Research of various specialties and an international clinic initiative begun after the Philanthropy of Denny Sanford, hold the possibilities of discussions that may further enhance and compliment the international impact and Research of the University of Minnesota components of Fairview.

While very early in the process of learning about each other, it seems there is a lot of commonality in values and priorities between the two Systems. We find ourselves intrigued by the possibilities and potential of our talks and yet we are comfortable with the notion of a careful and reasoned process to learn and think of what might be. With no overlap in service areas, and no historic relationships to confuse the discussions, it seems like a perfect moment in time to pursue these talks.

Fairview and Sanford are similarly sized organizations of approximately $3 Billion in net revenues each and approximately 25,000 employees each. Fairview is located with institutions in the Eastern and Northeastern parts of Minnesota, while Sanford Health composes 230,000 square miles in Western Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota.

About Sanford Health
Sanford Health is an integrated health system headquartered in the Dakotas and is now the largest, rural, not-for-profit health care system in the nation with locations in 126 communities in nine states. In addition, Sanford Health is in the process of developing international clinics in Ghana, Israel, Mexico and China.

Sanford Health includes 39 hospitals, 140 clinic locations and 1,360 physicians in 81 specialty areas of medicine. With more than 26,000 employees, Sanford Health is the largest employer in North and South Dakota. The system is experiencing dynamic growth and development in conjunction with nearly a billion dollars in gifts from philanthropist Denny Sanford. These gifts are making possible the implementation of several initiatives including global children's clinics, multiple research centers and finding cures for type 1 diabetes and breast cancer. For more information, please visit
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