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Mike Daly, Published July 27 2009

MeritCare, Sanford merger an overall gain for F-M area

I have read with interest the articles in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader about the probable merger between Sanford Health of Sioux Falls, S.D., and MeritCare of Fargo. It appears that some Fargo-Moorhead residents are concerned that the merger would lead to lost jobs, less service and loss of autonomy.

I have had the good fortune of living in both communities; five years in Fargo in the early ’80s and 20 years on and off in Sioux Falls. As an assistant coach on Don Morton’s staff at North Dakota State University, I witnessed firsthand a community and university that had high expectations but provided the resources and support to give our program, as well as most others, a great chance to succeed.

Sanford Health fits perfectly into that philosophy. My belief is that the chance for overall gain for the Fargo-Moorhead area far outweighs the chance for any loss based on the following observations:

The health care provided by Sanford doctors, nurses, clinic staff and administration is second to none. My family has dealt with numerous routine and life-threatening health issues during the past 25 years and has received care at hospitals in Rochester, Minn., Minneapolis, Madison, Wis., Sioux Falls and Fargo.

Sanford Health has consistently provided us with a superior patient experience; we believe we do not need to leave town to get great health care. The system is at the cutting edge of administrative practices and doctor/hospital alignment; the system has become not only a regional but national and international force in research, pediatrics and general health care.

I believe the merger would enhance the already high level of health care available in the Fargo-Moorhead area. My mother-in-law (who lives in Fargo) is about to begin cancer treatment at the Roger Maris Cancer Center, a choice that we support. My father-in-law came to Sioux Falls two years ago for open heart surgery; he began his rehabilitation and finished up in Fargo, choices that we also supported. It’s great to have quality options; no one loses.

The organization is a great corporate community citizen. The system has been at the forefront of many initiatives that have improved the quality of life in Sioux Falls. Sanford has been a force in improving college facilities, in providing first-class youth opportunities, in supporting high school activities and can always be counted on when civic needs arise.

The system has played a large part in the area’s vital economic climate even in these difficult times. Sanford Health is currently one of the entities leading the charge for a new events center for concerts, trade shows and athletic events; a Fargodome-type facility is one of the possibilities.

The CEO, Kelby Krabbenhoft, has North Dakota roots, a Concordia-Moorhead education, South Dakota horse sense and Midwestern values. Krabbenhoft has the vision, leadership ability and the energy to create opportunities for individuals, organizations and communities that most of us don’t see or anticipate.

Krabbenhoft strives for excellence (as Fargo-Moorhead does), believes in the Midwest work ethic and lifestyle (as Fargo-Moorhead residents do) and usually accomplishes what he sets out to do (as does the Fargo-Moorhead area). Krabbenhoft leads an organization that people enjoy working for and with.

I hope the merger goes through with relative ease. I see only great days ahead for both communities and look forward to experiencing the quality of life benefits that the merger will inevitably provide to both metropolitan areas.

Daly is a compliance examiner in the financial services industry. He has no professional association with Sanford Health.