Sanford Health

REGIONAL—Executives from UnityPoint Health pulled the plug on a potential merger with Sanford Health on Tuesday, Nov. 12, killing off a proposal that would have created the 15th largest nonprofit health system in the United States.

Sioux Fall, SD-based Sanford and UnityPoint Health of Des Moines announced in late June they were exploring a merger that would have generated more than $11 billion in operating revenue for the combined company.

The South Dakota hospital system maintains locations for a variety of health-care services throughout N’West Iowa, including in Boyden, Hartley, Hospers, Inwood, Orange City, Rock Rapids, Sanborn and Sheldon.

UnityPoint Health operates a medical center in Sioux City along with others throughout Iowa, western Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

The target day for the combined health-care entity to launch was Jan. 1.

Sanford president and CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft was disappointed by the news.

“We were excited at the opportunity our combination would have provided to create a new health system of national prominence,” he said in a statement.

“The executive management teams and physicians worked diligently for 18 months to provide a merger recommendation to the boards. We are disappointed that the UnityPoint Health board failed to embrace the vision.

Krabbenhoft would have maintained both of those roles under the new company while UnityPoint president and CEO Kevin Vermeer would have been named senior executive vice president, the second most senior executive position.

Vermeer spoke highly of Sanford in his announcement about the merger being called.

“We hold a deep respect for Sanford and will explore opportunities to work together in (the) future on behalf of the people and communities we each serve,” he said.

As a combined entity, Sanford/UnityPoint would have employed more than 83,000 staff and 2,600 physicians and carry out operations in 26 states and nine countries, including hospitals, clinics, health plans and networks, post-acute care, research, innovation and other lines of business.

“Our focus now is on the patients and communities we serve and the 50,000 people working tirelessly to support them,” Krabbenhoft said.