Sanford Health is on the verge of absorbing another health care provider in the Dakotas, though the move is being contested in federal court.
Sanford has signed a merger agreement with Mid Dakota Clinic, which has nearly 100 physicians who serve patients in the Bismarck-Mandan area. There were no layoffs planned due to the merger.
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The integration of the two health care systems will be ongoing through the next year, if approved by regulators.
However, the Federal Trade Commission and North Dakota Attorney General are trying to block the merger, filing a joint complaint Thursday in U.S. District Court alleging the deal would violate antitrust law by significantly reducing competition in Bismarck-Mandan.
The regulators are seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the deal until the matter can go to trial.
The two providers told The Bismarck Tribune that the actions are "extremely frustrating" and that they used national, legal and economic experts to evaluate the partnership.
Officials said there will be no interruptions to patient care, and clinic patients can continue seeing their current doctors and going to the hospital of their choice.
"Both of our organizations recognized by working together we could not only navigate the enormous challenges in the health care landscape, but we could increase access to existing services while offering new services to our patients," said Shelly Seifert, chairwoman of the clinic's board.
The merger should speed construction projects in several treatment areas including women's health and children's cancer, said Sanford Bismarck Executive Vice President Craig Lambrecht. It also will allow the combined provider to recruit a number of subspecialists, such as pediatric gastroenterology, so patients will no longer have to travel outside the community for care, officials said.
Sanford Health was formed in 2009 when Sanford in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, merged with Meritcare in Fargo, North Dakota. Three years later, the new Sanford Health bought Medcenter One in Bismarck. Sanford now bills itself as one of the largest health systems in the nation, with 45 hospitals and nearly 300 clinics in nine states and four countries.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com