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What Sanford-Good Sam. Merger Means For Good Sam. Residents

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - KELOLAND News is getting a better idea of what the Sanford Health-Good Samaritan Society merger will look like. 

As we told you last month, the two large Sioux Falls-based companies plan to join forces. 

In her retirement Judy Ryan has taken up painting. She's creating a picture for her grandson's 18th birthday. 

The spry 81-year-old also takes part in other activities at her independent living facility.

"The residents play chair volleyball on their own three mornings a week. It's just amazing. We've broken 20 chairs, and there's a dent in the wall. It's not a quiet sport," Ryan said.

Ryan moved to a Good Samaritan Society facility around five years ago after her husband died from a heart attack. Even though she worked in the healthcare field, she says working through all of the medical and insurance paperwork was frustrating.

"When I filed my income taxes two days after his death, mine was declared fraudulent. There had already been a fraudulent one submitted two days before that," Ryan said.

Sanford officials hope to eliminate some of the confusion for Good Sam. residents through this merger. How? If residents choose Sanford doctors and insurance, they'll be able to communicate directly with independent and assisted living facilities.

"We have the same communication platform. We have the same data platforms. Everything becomes much more seamless," Sanford Chief Medical Officer Allison Suttle said.

Suttle says any other changes will be subtle and happen over time. She doesn't know yet if Good Sam. residents will be required to be part of the Sanford system.

"For those who aren't within that system, we'll do the best we can because we know that's going to be the best for the residents and patients to make it as seamless as possible," Suttle said.

Suttle also says Good Sam. residents could see more services from Sanford at their own homes.

"What more can we bring into the homes, into these communities of long-term care, that can provide healthcare to individuals in their homes? It's getting care at the right place, not waiting until people are sick and need the hospitals," Suttle said.

Services that Ryan says paint a good healthcare picture.

"It really is a strange configuration that's kind of a gift that's come together," Ryan said.

The merger does still need regulatory approval. The CEO of Sanford expects that to happen around the end of fall, and the merger will be complete by the beginning of next year. 

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