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North Country Health in MN to Join Sanford Health

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, November 18, 2010

The Dakotas' Sanford Health, the nation's largest rural non-profit system, and North Country Health Services, a hospital and rehab center in Bimidji, MN have signed a letter of intent to combine efforts, the systems have announced.

The fully integrated clinic and hospital in Bemidji will be not-for-profit and will increase efficiencies to better coordinate patient care, the organizations say.

"North Country Health Services and Sanford Health announced our intent to come together as one organization, better positioning us to lead in northern Minnesota by delivering innovative healthcare and expanding our capabilities in highly specialized areas of medicine," says Jim Bensen, of the North Country board of trustees.

Added Kelby Krabbenhoft, Sanford's president and CEO: "This is the perfect time to pursue ways we can work together to grow and improve our services in northern Minnesota. We can add value for patients, be proactive in healthcare reform, and attract talent, including doctors, nurses and other health professionals who will significantly advance the services we offer.

NCHS operates an 80-bed acute care hospital, a 16-bed rehab, and 12-bed acute geriatric psychiatric units serving a region of 100,000 people in Northern Minnesota. It has 900 employees, 25,000 emergency visits per year and 5,000 acute admissions.

Sanford has 30 hospitals, 111 clinic locations and more than 18,000 employees and is the largest employer in both North and South Dakota. It is developing far-ranging efforts both nationally—in eight states as far as Oregon and California—and internationally in part with a $400 million gift from philanthropist Denny Sanford.

Last year, Sanford announced that it has joined with MeritCare and in July, announced that all services provided under MeritCare in North Dakota would be under the Sanford Health name.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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