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Bemidji Pioneer, Published September 22 2011

Sanford Health looks at northern Minnesota merger

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota announced this week it is pursuing a partnership with Clearwater Health Services.

On Wednesday, Sanford said it is participating in a non-binding letter of intent with the Clearwater County Board.

CHS includes the county’s Memorial Hospital in Bagley, the attached CHS clinic, the Clearwater Ambulance Service and the CHS clinic in Clearbrook.

The letter allows both organizations to complete due diligence, which includes financial, legal and business information that will help validate if partnering is a good decision for both organizations.

“This partnership with Sanford will supply us with the expertise needed to provide a stable environment for patients and staff,” Daniel Stenseng, Clearwater County Board Chair, said in a press release. “Sanford provides a long history of successful health care management that will allow staff to focus on caring for patients.”

Over the next several months, both organizations will work together to develop a final agreement and complete the necessary paperwork.

“This is the perfect time to pursue ways we can work together to improve and grow health care services in northern Minnesota,” Paul Hanson, president Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota, said in a press release.

As part of the agreement, Sanford Health will be purchasing many of the assets of CHS and leasing the facility for the next three years. At this time all services will be maintained and Sanford will be evaluating the scope and services needed in the future. Staff will be employed by Sanford.

The Memorial Hospital in Bagley is a 25-bed critical access hospital owned by Clearwater County and established in 1949. Clearwater Health Services employs approximately 80 people, serving residents of Clearwater County with a combined county population of approximately 8,250.

Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota, inclusive of Sanford Bemidji, has more than 1,450 employees, 75 doctors and 118 acute care beds and is part of the Sanford Health system based in Fargo and Sioux Falls, S.D. Sanford is the largest, rural, not-for-profit health care system in the nation with a presence in 111 communities in eight states.

Sanford Health includes 32 hospitals, 111 clinic locations and more than 900 physicians in 70 specialty areas of medicine. With more than 20,000 employees, Sanford Health is the largest employer in North Dakota and South Dakota.