MeritCare, Sanford Health merger could expand health care servicesFARGO — Executives planning a merger of the two largest health systems in the Dakotas say it could mean expanded medical services.
By: Associated Press, Worthington Daily Globe
FARGO — Executives planning a merger of the two largest health systems in the Dakotas say it could mean expanded medical services.
Fargo’s MeritCare and Sanford Health of Sioux Falls, S.D., hope to complete the merger by the end of the year. The combined network would serve about 2 million people in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa.
MeritCare already has land south of Interstate 94, on Fargo’s western edge, which has been in reserve for development. Emergency room services and the Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo are among its facilities needing more space.
Executives are talking about starting work in five years on a new facility, at an estimated cost of $300 million.
“Within 60 months, I would like to see us breaking ground, certainly announcing a plan within a year,” Kelby Krabbenhoft, Sanford’s chief executive, told The Forum.
Krabbenhoft has also mentioned the possibility of a children’s hospital in Fargo.
Even before the idea of a merger with Sanford began to take shape, a MeritCare review of its facilities found much of the downtown Fargo medical center would have to be rebuilt in the next 25 years, said Dr. Roger Gilbertson, MeritCare’s chief executive.
“They (architects and engineers) told us, ‘You have to tear it down or replace it, or transition to a new location,’” Gilbertson said. “That’s what we’re looking at.”
The downtown campus, because of its location and the investment in it, will continue to provide services, Krabbenhoft said.
Given its volume of patients, MeritCare’s emergency room should be much larger, Gilbertson said.
“We have about a third of the size we need for the number of people we see,” he said. “That’s why that is kind of the high priority for us.”
Krabbenhoft said executives have been discussing how they can expand services in both Fargo and Sioux Falls.
In Sioux Falls, a combined Sanford-MeritCare would make it easier to build a new $90 million heart hospital, Krabbenhoft said. The merger also could make it possible to offer new areas of highly specialized care, he said.
Gilbertson said the financial clout that would result from a merger means plans for expansion can be “some reality instead of merely a dream.”