Sanford, Marshfield Clinic announce intent to combine

Marshfield Clinic Health System serves rural Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Sanford, Marshfield Clinic announce intent to combine

Sanford Health, the largest rural health system in the U.S., headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Marshfield Clinic Health System, a physician-led integrated health system serving rural Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, today announced a nonbinding Memorandum of Understanding to combine their complementary assets and capabilities and create an integrated health system dedicated to advancing world-class care in the rural Midwest.

Both organizations share a rich history of delivering exceptional rural health care to the patients and communities they collectively serve.

“We are excited to combine our common purpose to lead the way for the future, drive innovation and solve the most pressing challenges facing rural health care,” said Bill Gassen, president and CEO of Sanford Health. “We are who we are today because of combinations with care delivery organizations in rural communities across America’s heartland. These opportunities have allowed us to follow through on our promise to deliver world-class health care to every patient we serve no matter their ZIP code, and we are eager to continue building on this track record with Marshfield Clinic Health System.”

The partnership will bring together two strong physician-driven organizations, each with a reputation for excellence in quality, safety and patient experience. Together, the combined organization will advance national leadership in physician-led integrated care; lead the way in research with an emphasis on underrepresented populations; foster a healthy operating performance; and put patients, people and communities at the forefront.

Emphasis on affordability, access to care

The combined nonprofit system will enable vital investment in the care of patients and communities across the rural Midwest to meet health care needs today and into the future. Over the last decade, Sanford Health has invested more than $1.5 billion in communities across South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa including expanded access to specialty care and state-of-the-art facilities.

“Partnering with Sanford Health presents an incredible opportunity for our organizations to unify and establish the premier rural health system in the nation,” said Brian Hoerneman, M.D., interim CEO of Marshfield Clinic Health System. “Together, we will ensure sustainable access to exceptional care for our communities for years to come. With a shared mission to serve, a mutual emphasis on research and education, and a strong tradition of physician leadership, Sanford Health is the ideal partner for this endeavor.”

According to Marshfield Clinic Health System Board Chair George Brown, M.D.: “The partnership marks a new chapter in our organization, and we look forward to serving our patients as the nationwide leader in rural health care.”

Lauris Molbert, chair of the Sanford Health Board of Trustees, added: “This partnership is a win-win for the patients and communities we serve, and for our organizations that have had a long tradition of innovation, physician leadership and dedicated caregivers. This combination will strengthen local, patient-centered nonprofit health care for generations to come.”

Combined health system to include research, health plans

The nonprofit combination will:

  • Improve patient outcomes through broader population health initiatives, value-based care programs and new innovative care delivery models;
  • Harness the full promise of technology, including virtual care, digital health, data analytics, AI and genomic medicine to advance the health of communities;
  • Expand the breadth and depth of research capabilities, including increasing access to nearly 1,000 active clinical trials and clinical studies and combining research expertise to bring new treatments and cures to patients;
  • Expand capabilities that allow for greater investment in clinical needs, directly supporting patients, providers and communities;
  • Strengthen the ability to train, educate and support future physicians and caregivers through shared initiatives, including graduate medical education programs and strong partnerships with educational institutions throughout both regions; and
  • Create new opportunities for research and collaboration, robust peer networks and enhanced professional development and training.

The combined system will bring together nearly 56,000 employees, 56 hospitals, 4,300 providers, two fully integrated health plans, specialty pharmacies and nationally recognized research institutions.

Utilizing each organization’s respective health plan, Sanford Health Plan and Security Health Plan, will allow the fully integrated system to serve more than 425,000 members, maximizing the benefits it can deliver to patients and members through shared governance.

Upon finalization of the combination, the name of the parent company will be Sanford Health, with system headquarters in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Marshfield Clinic Health System will be a region within Sanford Health and maintain regional leadership with its flagship medical campus in Marshfield, Wisconsin, a regional board of directors, a regional physician executive council and regional brand presence.  Sanford Health president and CEO Bill Gassen will serve as president and CEO of the combined system. Marshfield Clinic Health System interim CEO, Brian Hoerneman, M.D., will serve as president and CEO of the Marshfield Clinic Health System region.

The combination is expected to close by the end of the year, subject to regulatory processes and closing conditions. There are no immediate changes for employees or those each system serves. Sanford Health and Marshfield Clinic Health System remain two separate, independent organizations until the closing.

About Sanford Health

Sanford Health, the largest rural health system in the United States, is dedicated to transforming the health care experience and providing access to world-class health care in America’s heartland. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the organization serves 1.4 million patients and nearly 200,000 health plan members across 250,000 square miles. The integrated health system has 45 hospitals, 211 clinic locations, more than 160 Good Samaritan Society senior living centers, 2,900 Sanford physicians and advanced practice providers, 540 active clinical trials, and nine world clinic locations around the globe. Learn more about Sanford Health’s commitment to shaping the future of rural health care across the lifespan at

About Marshfield Clinic Health System

Marshfield Clinic Health System is an integrated health system whose mission is to enrich lives through accessible, affordable compassionate health care. The Health System serves Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with more than 1,400 providers comprising 170 specialties, health plan, and research and education programs. Primary operations include more than 60 Marshfield Clinic locations, 11 hospitals, Marshfield Children’s Hospital, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, Security Health Plan and Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation.

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Posted In Company News, News, Rural Health