Sanford Health-MeritCare was created from the 2009 merger of two Dakota health care legends: South Dakota's Sanford Health and North Dakota's MeritCare Health System. Both date back to the 1890s, and today the combined not-for-profit health care provider is one of the largest integrated health care systems in the US. It primarily serves rural areas with some 35 regional and community hospitals (housing more than 1,600 beds) in the Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Its medical system also operates local clinics, long term care centers, and specialty care centers for cancer, cardiology, orthopedics, pediatrics, and women's health.
Following the merger, the two units briefly kept their separate identities, but in 2010 organized under the Sanford Health name.
Along with its health care facilities, Sanford Health also operates Sanford Laboratories, based in Sioux Falls and Rapid City, South Dakota. The system maintains Sanford Research, a non-profit research organization that draws upon the physicians of Sanford Health and researchers at the University of South Dakota. Finally, the Sanford Health Plan is a non-profit health plan that serves individuals and employers across the system's region.
Growth plans for the system include the construction of hospital and clinic facilities in Minnesota and North Dakota, as well as a new Sanford Heart Hospital and new health care and research facilities in South Dakota. A $400 million gift from local philanthropist T. Denny Sanford is enabling the establishment of several of those new Sanford Health facilities. That contribution is also supporting the organization's research programs in children's health and an initiative to find a cure for type 1 diabetes.
In the meantime, the system is simply growing by striking partnerships with small regional health care providers in northern Minnesota. In 2010 alone it formed a partnership with Appleton Area Health Services in Minnesota, enhanced an earlier agreement with Perham Memorial Hospital in Perham, Minnesota.
In 2011 Sanford Health acquired North Country Health Services, which has since been renamed Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota. The purchase included North County Regional Hospital (now named Sanford Bemidji Medical Center) in Bemidji, Minnesota. Through the deal, Sanford agreed to spend $70 million to improve the system over 5 years. Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota also includes Sanford's existing health center in the region (the Bemidji Clinic). – less