Sanford-Fairview merger would shortchange patient care, nurses say

Nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association are speaking out in opposition of a proposed merger between Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health and Minneapolis-based Fairview Health.

The nurses announced their opposition on Nov. 15. They also oppose a potential merger between Duluth, Minn.-based Essentia Health and Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic Health System.

"MNA Nurses strongly oppose these proposed corporate mergers by our hospital CEOs at the same time as they continue to close hospitals, pay millions to themselves and other top executives, and deny nurses and patients the resources needed to ensure safe staffing and quality patient care at the bedside," nurses wrote in a statement.

The statement is from Ericka Helling, RN, MNA chair, M Health Fairview Southdale; Ami Tillemans, RN, MNA chair, M Health Fairview West Bank; Dawn Remus, RN, MNA chair, M Health Fairview West Bank; Jessica Mistic, RN, MNA chair, Sanford Bemidji Medical Center; Jessica Eck, RN, MNA chair, Sanford Bemidji Medical Center; Jodi Walker-O'Beirne, RN, MNA chair, Sanford Bemidji Medical Center; and Chris Rubesch, RN, MNA first vice president, Essentia Health.

The proposed Sanford-Fairview merger would combine Sanford, which operates nearly 50 medical centers in North and South Dakota and Western Minnesota, and Fairview, which operates 10 inpatient hospitals, 80 clinics and more than 35 pharmacies around St. Paul and Minneapolis.

In a news release shared with Becker's, the organizations said the combined system would "bring together Sanford Health's experience serving rural populations with Fairview Health Services' experience in serving urban populations across complementary geographic footprints." They also said the proposed merger would uniquely position the combined system to provide more people access to high-quality, equitable healthcare, accelerate population health and value-based care, and drive clinical innovation to benefit rural, urban and indigenous communities in the Midwest.

merger between Essentia Health and Marshfield Clinic would create a network of 3,500 providers and cover 25 hospitals across 150 care sites.

"Through a new partnership, we can support the care models, services, research and technologies to ensure sustainable and thriving rural healthcare," David Herman, MD, CEO of Essentia Health, said in a news release shared with Becker's.

Nurses with the MNA argue that the proposed mergers "put corporate expansion ahead of patient care."

More specifically, they contend that such mergers threaten to increase healthcare costs and often lead to hospital and clinic closures. They are asking that the organizations provide nurses with "a seat at the table in merger talks to ensure that the best interests of the community and nurses are included in decisions that will affect care access and quality of care."

Read the nurses' full statement here

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