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Published July 12 2009

Forum editorial: What’s the hurry at MeritCare?

MeritCare’s consideration of a possible merger with Sanford Health of Sioux Falls, S.D., is not going down well in Fargo for several valid reasons.

First, MeritCare’s management clearly misread sentiment about a merger that could result in the Fargo facility being the junior partner in the South Dakota operation. That outcome would not be acceptable because of MeritCare’s history as a locally based regional medical center.

Second, MeritCare has been less than forthcoming about the reasons for the merger and its potential impacts on the community.

Third, MeritCare operates like a private business, but it also is a community-based and community-supported institution. Therefore, its management has a responsibility to the community that goes beyond the perceived benefits of a merger with an out-of-state company.

For all, and more, of the above reasons, 10 influential Fargo residents – most of them with service on MeritCare’s board of trustees – formed “Citizens for MeritCare.” “What’s the rush?” asked committee member Bruce Furness at a Friday news conference.

Good question. Another good question: Where’s the transparency?

MeritCare is an excellent facility. Maybe a merger is a good idea. Maybe it’s not. But because the medical center is such an important community institution, management cannot circle the wagons when questions are raised. Slow down. Answer the questions.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.