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Published July 22 2010

Forum editorial: Sanford ushers in a new era

When Sanford Health of Sioux Falls, S.D., and MeritCare of Fargo began flirting with a merger, not everyone in Fargo was pleased. There was an organized effort – led by respected community leaders – to scuttle the plan. Legitimate fears arose that a merged organization would be dominated by the South Dakota health system at the expense of the identity and local focus of the North Dakota health care center.

That was then. This week it can be argued that the identity concern had some merit, although not much. The MeritCare name has been retired. The new regional system will be Sanford Health, with the downtown Fargo campus of MeritCare dubbed Sanford Medical Center Fargo. The maroon-on-white MeritCare logo is being replaced by Sanford’s name in white on a field of blue.

What’s in a name? It depends on one’s perspective. Frankly, there are people in the Fargo-Moorhead region who are still in a snit over the change from St. Luke’s to MeritCare. Never will get over it. But with the change to Sanford Health, it appears good things will happen in a relatively short time.

Sanford’s executives made promises and commitments during merger talks. If some of the rhetoric came off like carrots to appease merger opponents, the follow-up post-merger is adding substance to promises. For example:

Many of the projects and proposals are initiatives made possible because a bigger, financially secure Sanford Health, merged with MeritCare, can swing such huge investments. One result will be a comprehensive regional health center of national significance that serves patients in parts of five states.

Sanford Health is off to a good start in Fargo, having completed the merger in record time. And even those who had doubts about the merger should be heartened by the unequivocal restatement of commitment to patient care, medical education and facilities expansion.

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