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Two Health Systems Unite in Bemidji

Sanford Health and North Country Health Services Join.

(Bemidji, MN) – North Country Health Services (NCHS) and Sanford Health announce the final approval and contract signing bringing the two organizations together. The contract is effective March 1, 2011.

NCHS and Sanford Bemidji Clinic have worked closely for decades. This is the first step in the integration of the two Bemidji-based organizations with a mission to provide more seamless, coordinated care for patients close to home. Plans are underway to expand the areas of heart, cancer, orthopedics & sports medicine and women’s health, as well as research and education. This will help bring the best and brightest employees and physicians to the region.

As part of the affiliation, Sanford will invest $70 million in resources over the next ten years and will immediately make a $5 million gift to the NCHS Foundation.

“A yearlong evaluation process revealed many ways for us to better serve the region together as an integrated provider,” commented Kelby Krabbenhoft, CEO of Sanford Health. “We will combine the resources of a strong regional health care institution and a multi-specialty physician clinic, together with the Sanford Health System, to offer more primary and specialty care services and new programs in research and education. Our goals were the same - to make Bemidji a regional referral center in northern Minnesota and this merger will enable us to do so.”

Sanford Bemidji will consist of Sanford Bemidji Medical Center and Sanford Bemidji Clinic and will operate under the legal name of Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota, based in Bemidji. Sanford Bemidji will serve as the regional hub for Sanford Health in northern Minnesota.

“Both NCHS and Sanford Bemidji Clinic have deep roots in this region as well as a legacy of community service,” says Paul Hanson, President/CEO of NCHS. “At a time of great change in health care, we see this affiliation as an opportunity to grow and provide quality health care to the people of this region now and for years to come.”

While this is the final step in the affiliation process, it is just the first step in the integration of the two organizations. The full integration of the systems will continue as an on-going process over many months.

About NCHS

Bemidji has a population of more than 13,000 people and serves as the commercial hub and a vital link to services for people in a broad region of northern Minnesota.

NCHS has more than 900 employees with 25,000 emergency visits, 5,500 acute admissions and 1,000 births per year. NCHS opened in 1898 and is an acute care hospital serving a region of approximately 100,000 people in northern Minnesota. It has 80 acute hospital beds, 16 acute rehabilitation beds, 12 acute geriatric psychiatric beds and 78 skilled nursing home beds; 120 assisted living apartments including a distinct dementia unit; a durable medical equipment company; a Class A licensed homecare agency and Medicare certified hospice program.

About Sanford Health

The clinic in Bemidji opened in 1947. Today, Sanford Bemidji Clinic has 75 physicians, 15 mid-level providers and 550 employees.

Sanford Health is an integrated health system headquartered in Fargo, ND and Sioux Falls, SD and consists of two long-standing organizations that merged in 2009. Sanford is now the largest, rural, not-for-profit health care system in the nation with a presence in 111 communities in eight states. In addition, Sanford Health is in the process of developing international clinics in Belize and Ireland.

Sanford Health includes 31 hospitals, 111 clinic locations and more than 800 physicians in 70 specialty areas of medicine. With more than 19,000 employees, Sanford Health is the largest employer in North and South Dakota. The system is experiencing dynamic growth and development in conjunction with Denny Sanford's $400 million gift in 2007, the largest gift ever to a health care organization in America. This gift is making possible the implementation of the several initiatives including global children's clinics, multiple research centers and finding a cure for type 1 diabetes.

For more information, visit

Andrea Voorhees | Sanford Media Strategist  | Fargo Region
701-200-6080  |