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Marshfield Medical Center-River Region at Stevens Point is located at 4100 Hwy. 66. (Metro Wire photo)

NEW: Marshfield Clinic merges with Sanford Health

By Patrick Lynn

Marshfield Clinic is merging with Sanford Health, the largest rural health system in the U.S.

The two companies made the public announcement late Wednesday morning, a short time after physicians and staff were notified.

Sanford, based in Sioux Falls, SD, and Marshfield Clinic signed a nonbinding Memorandum of Understanding to combine their “complementary assets and capabilities and create an integrated health system dedicated to advancing world-class care in the rural Midwest,” according to a joint news release on July 10.

“We are excited to combine our common purpose to lead the way for the future, drive innovation, and solve the most pressing challenges facing rural health care,” said Bill Gassen, president and CEO of Sanford Health. “We are who we are today because of combinations with care delivery organizations in rural communities across America’s heartland. These opportunities have allowed us to follow through on our promise to deliver world-class health care to every patient we serve no matter their zip code, and we are eager to continue building on this track record with Marshfield Clinic Health System.”

The partnership will bring together two strong physician-driven organizations, each with a reputation for excellence in quality, safety, and patient experience. The resulting organism will focus on physician-led integrated care and underrepresented populations, and “put patients, people, and communities at the forefront.”

The combined nonprofit system will invest in the care of patients and communities across the rural Midwest to meet healthcare needs today and into the future. Over the last decade, Sanford Health has invested more than $1.5 billion in communities across South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa including expanded access to specialty care and state-of-the-art facilities.

“Partnering with Sanford Health presents an incredible opportunity for our organizations to unify and establish the premier rural health system in the nation,” said Brian Hoerneman, M.D., interim CEO of Marshfield Clinic Health System. “Together, we will ensure sustainable access to exceptional care for our communities for years to come. With a shared mission to serve, a mutual emphasis on research and education, and a strong tradition of physician leadership, Sanford Health is the ideal partner for this endeavor.”

Among the nonprofit’s plans:

  • Improve patient outcomes through broader population health initiatives, value-based care programs, and new innovative care delivery models;
  • Harness the full promise of technology, including virtual care, digital health, data analytics, AI, and genomic medicine to advance the health of communities;
  • Expand the breadth and depth of research capabilities, including increasing access to nearly 1,000 active clinical trials and clinical studies and combining research expertise to bring new treatments and cures to patients;
  • Expand capabilities that allow for greater investment in clinical needs, directly supporting patients, providers, and communities;
  • Strengthen the ability to train, educate, and support future physicians and caregivers through shared initiatives, including graduate medical education programs and strong partnerships with educational institutions throughout both regions; and
    Create new opportunities for research and collaboration, robust peer networks, and enhanced professional development and training.
    The combined system will bring together nearly 56,000 employees, 56 hospitals, 4,300 providers, two fully integrated health plans, specialty pharmacies, and nationally recognized research institutions.

Utilizing each organization’s respective health plans, Sanford Health Plan and Security Health Plan, will allow the fully integrated system to serve more than 425,000 members, maximizing the benefits it can deliver to patients and members through shared governance.

Upon finalization of the combination, the name of the parent company will be Sanford Health, with system headquarters in Sioux Falls.

Marshfield Clinic Health System will be a region within Sanford Health and maintain regional leadership with its flagship medical campus in Marshfield, Wisconsin, a regional board of directors, a regional physician executive council, and a regional brand presence. Sanford Health president and CEO Bill Gassen will serve as president and CEO of the combined system. Marshfield Clinic Health System interim CEO, Brian Hoerneman, M.D., will serve as president and CEO of the Marshfield Clinic Health System region.

The combination is expected to close by the end of the year, subject to regulatory processes and closing conditions.

There are no immediate changes for employees or those each system serves, the press release said.

Sanford Health and Marshfield Clinic Health System remain two separate, independent organizations until the closing.