Utah-based health system to merge with Sanford; Headquarters to be in Salt Lake City

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The proposed merger of Sanford Health in Sioux Falls with Intermountain Healthcare of Salt Lake City, Utah, would be Intermountain Healthcare’s third major change in about a year.

Sanford and Intermountain officials announced the merger, which is expected to be finalized in the summer of 2021, during a news conference on Monday.

Intermountain Health has bought two health care systems within the last year.

Intermountain bought HealthCare Partners of Nevada in an agreement reached in June 2019.

About a year later, Intermountain bought Saltzer Health of Idaho in a deal that was expected to be finalized earlier this month.

Healthcare Partners had 1,800 employees, including about 340 physicians when Intermountain bought it in 2019. It has 61 locations now, according to its website.

Saltzer employs nearly 80 physicians and advanced practice providers serving 102,000 patients annually at eight locations in Canyon and Ada counties, according to its website.

The combined Intermountain and Sanford organization will employ more than 89,000 people and operate 70 hospitals, many in rural communities. It will operate 435 clinics across seven states, provide senior care and services in 366 locations in 24 states.

Sanford and Intermountain are accepted brands, Sanford Health president and CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft said. Sanford will be the brand in the east and Intermountain will be in the brand in the west.

The merger between the two organizations will not change the name for either but Sanford would be under the umbrella of Intermountain, officials from both organizations said.

The headquarters will be in Salt Lake City, where Intermountain is located.

Gail Miller, the chairwoman of Intermountain, will be the chairwoman of both merged boards. Miller is the wife of Larry Miller, who died in 2009. The Millers and their business company, the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, owned the Utah Jazz until 2017 when it was placed in a legacy trust by Gail Miller. She is the CEO of Larry H. Miller Group of Companies.

Marc Harrison, the chief executive officer of Intermountain, will be the CEO of the merged system. Krabbenhoft will serve as president emeritus for a period of time.

Harrison, who is a pediatrics doctor, described the two organizations as “brothers and sisters.” Intermountain’s service area and Sanford’s service area have much in common, Harrison said.

During the pandemic, Sanford has benefitted from its regional presence across several states, Krabbenhoft said. Sanford had a command center with a regional plan, he said.

That merger will expand that benefit, he said.

“There is one leader, one command center,” Krabbenhoft said of Harrison’s role. “Now we are going to be able to (have that) that on an even bigger scale.”

The insurance benefit is also an attractive part of the merger for Sanford, Krabbenhoft said.

Although Sanford offers an insurance plan for the public, growing and expanding it has been a challenge, Krabbenhoft said.

Intermountain has an insurance program four to five times the size Sanford’s, Krabbenhoft said.

Mergers and acquisitions are not new to Sanford.

Krabbenhoft said Sanford has completed multiple actions worth billions of dollars over the past several years.

One of the most recent actions was with Good Samaritan Society and its long-term care facilities.

A proposed merger with UnityPoint Health of Des Moines, Iowa, failed last year when Unity backed out. A Nov. 12, 2019, KELOLAND News story said Unity was concerned about a lawsuit and related issues on a device used by a former Sanford doctor.

Sanford and Fairview also discussed a possible merger in early 2013 which also included the University of Minnesota. Sanford withdrew from discussions after then Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and some other state public officials had expressed some concerns about a possible merger.

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