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Sanford CEO aims to announce merger plans with $1B Chicago system by year's end

Kelby Krabbenhoft, president and CEO of Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health, said the health system is on track to expand into several areas — including Chicago and Minnesota — and aims to announce certain merger plans by the end of 2018, according to SiouxFalls.Business.

Mr. Krabbenhoft told the publication he met with leaders of a Chicago-based health system last week. While he has not revealed any details about the proposed deal, Mr. Krabbenhoft told SiouxFalls.Business the $1 billion system comprises "very good friends and allies," and that Sanford's board is on track to vote to move the merger forward before the end of the year.

He also noted conversations with various organizations in Minnesota are ongoing. Mr. Krabbenhoft is expected to meet with the CEO of Bloomington, Minn.-based HealthPartners next week.

The recent decision to expedite the merger between Sanford and the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society has also brought Sanford in touch with organizations in other markets, including Phoenix, Orlando and Rapid City, S.D. Mr. Krabbenhoft said he met with the CEO of Rapid City Regional Hospital several weeks ago and hosted a group of Rapid City community leaders Aug. 28 to provide them with more information on Sanford's research, affiliated insurance arm and children's hospital.

Mr. Krabbenhoft disputed the growing chorus of rumors claiming he plans to step down from his position. He said contrary to such speculations, he has committed to retiring from Sanford Health in 2023, but has discussed staying longer.

"My board has had discussions about wanting me to stay beyond that because I'm healthy and having fun, but at this point I’m staying with my plan," he told SiouxFalls.Business.

Sanford Health Board of Trustees Chairman Mark Paulson, MD, also issued a statement to the publication in support of Mr. Krabbenhoft.

"As he has demonstrated over the past 22 years at Sanford, Kelby is a visionary leader positioning Sanford as a world-class healthcare system. He has the full support and confidence of the board. I look forward to the future with him at the helm," Dr. Paulson said.

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