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Intermountain Healthcare, Sanford Health announce intent to merge

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Intermountain Healthcare, based in Salt Lake City and Sanford Health announced plans to merge Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (File photo: KUTV)

Intermountain Healthcare, based in Salt Lake City and Sanford Health announced plans to merge Monday to create a health system that covers large portions of the United States.

The plans were announced Monday after a letter of intent for the merger was signed Oct. 23. Each medical organization will retain its own name and branding. Dr. Marc Harrison, Intermountain's CEO, said the merger will not change anything for healthcare workers.

"This is two really strong organizations coming together. This is really about the greater good," he said and stated that it wasn't about one organization sending a check to the other. The merger was positioned as a joining of forces. He said the two organizations already like each other clinically and believed it would lead to sharing of better practices. He said the Sanford part of the system and the Intermountain part of the system are brothers and sisters.

Harrison will be the top executive of the merger. Sanford CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft also spoke at the virtual press conference. He described the organizations as two juggernauts working together. Corporate offices will be in South Dakota while the parent organization will have headquarters in Salt Lake City. Krabbenhoft, president and CEO of Sanford Health, will serve as president emeritus.

"Nobody has to look further than Intermountain Healthcare to determine what is the best in the country," Krabbenhoft said.

Intermountain is headquartered in Salt Lake City with a medical footprint in Nevada and Idaho. The two organizations cover vast areas with a few big cities. Harrison said Sanford is recognized as the best or among the best systems for rural healthcare. The merger is said to make telehealth and digital health services more relevant. Sanford spans 24 states with 48,000 employees, 46 hospitals, 1,500 providers and 366 Good Samaritan Society senior care and living centers.

"We feel we can be a beacon, a light on a hill," he said.

According to Krabbenhoft, the conversation for the merger began when former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt introduced the heads of the two organizations.

Harrison said in the short term, users of the system will see no differences in service but in the long run it will share the strengths of the organizations in digital reach, rural healthcare and clinical best practices. Together the two organizations employ approximately 89,000 people. The boards of both not-for-profit organizations approved a resolution to support moving forward with the due diligence process. The organizations will enter this activity with the goal to sign a merger agreement, according to Monday's announcement.

Krabbenhoft said each organization came from faith-based traditions, a strong benefit for the merger.

The merger would join 70 hospitals, many in rural communities and would operate 435 clinics across seven states, provide senior care in 233 locations in 24 states, and insure 1.1 million people.

Intermountain Healthcare said in a press release:

About Intermountain Healthcare

Intermountain Healthcare is a team of more than 41,000 caregivers who serve the healthcare needs of people across the Intermountain West, primarily in Utah, Idaho, and Nevada. It is an integrated, not-for-profit health system headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, with 225 clinics, a medical group, 24 hospitals (one that is virtual), homecare, telehealth, health insurance plans, and other services. It is one of the nation's top five health systems for innovation and for providing high-quality care at sustainable costs. Visit intermountainhealthcare.org for more information.

About Sanford Health

Sanford Health is dedicated to the integrated delivery of health care, genomic medicine, senior care and services, global clinics, research and affordable insurance. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the organization spans 24 states with 48,000 employees, 46 hospitals, 1,500 providers and 366 Good Samaritan Society senior care and living centers. Learn more about Sanford Health's transformative work to improve the human condition at sanfordhealth.org or Sanford Health News.