SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Major changes could be on the way for health care in the Midwest. Sanford Health announced it’s planning to combine services with Fairview Health Services in Minnesota. Sanford and Fairview have signed a non-binding letter of intent for the merger.

Administrators at both health systems say merging Sanford and Fairview would be beneficial to patients at both health systems. Sanford CEO Bill Gassen says it’s an opportunity to bring together two organizations that share a mission and vision for the future.

“But do so with different but complimentary capabilities,” said Gassen. “Sanford Health has a deep history of providing incredible world-class care to rural America, and Fairview Health Services has a deep rich history of serving their populations across more densely populated urban communities and with different capabilities but coming together.”

Of course, the big question on everybody’s mind, will the Sanford name remain?

“We are excited that the brand for the parent organizations as we move forward will continue to be Sanford Health,” said Gassen.

Sanford Health and Fairview Health Services would both remain nonprofit entities, each with their own regional presence. Fairview is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit health system founded in 1906. The Fairview Health Services system includes 11 hospitals, 80 clinics and 36 pharmacies.

The Minnesota-based system has around 31,000 employees. Like Sanford, they also run senior care and long-term care facilities.

The two systems held merger talks 9 years ago, but they fell apart when Minnesota officials, including lawmakers and the Attorney General got involved. This time those hurdles don’t appear to be present.

Gassen says he feels good about the prospects of completing the merge, reminding us that this is not a done deal. There is still a lot of work to be done to make it happen.

Gassen will serve as President and CEO of the combined Health System. Fairview Health Services CEO James Hereford will serve as Co-CEO for a period of one year after the deal closes.