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Jon Walker, Sioux Falls (S.D.) Argus Leader, Published July 18 2009

Officials dismiss financial rescue

Recent financial losses for MeritCare had no bearing on its merger with Sanford Health, officials said Friday while promising that economies of both Fargo and Sioux Falls will grow because of the new medical network.

MeritCare, based in Fargo, suffered a $13 million loss, laid off 90 people and cut close to 300 positions in 2008. MeritCare did rebound with a $2 million gain in the recently completed fiscal 2009, the same year Sanford officials said the Sioux Falls-based system posted a $21 million gain.

Kelby Krabbenhoft, president and chief executive officer at Sanford, said the imbalance was no concern to him at all as he pushed for a 50-50 merger of equals in the deal the two health systems signed this week.

Sanford is not buying MeritCare and is not coming to its rescue, Krabbenhoft said.

Instead, the two health systems complement each other in culture and mission and will build off each other’s strengths, he said.

Krabbenhoft and Roger Gilbertson, president and CEO of MeritCare, spoke at a news conference Friday morning in Fargo and an afternoon session in Sioux Falls.