, ,

Marshfield Clinic system, Sanford Health announce plans to combine

Combined system will bring together nearly 56K employees, 56 hospitals and 4.3K providers across the Midwest 

Marshfield Medical Center-Neillsville
Marshfield Medical Center-Neillsville in Neillsville, has 17 hospital beds that remain mostly empty; it has an average of just four patients a night, although the beds are used for other services during the day. The building also houses a primary care clinic. Photo taken Sept. 19, 2019. Coburn Dukehart/Wisconsin Watch

After a previous merger with Essentia Health was called off, Marshfield Clinic Health System announced plans to combine with Sanford Health — the largest rural health system in the United States.

The health systems announced their intent to merge on Wednesday in a joint press release, saying together, they’ll be able to better invest in patient care across the rural Midwest.

Dr. Brian Hoerneman, interim CEO of Marshfield Clinic Health System, said the partnership is an opportunity to unify rural health care.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“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,” he said in a statement.

Bill Gassen is the president and CEO of Sanford Health, which is based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He said the merger will help “solve the most pressing challenges facing rural health care.”

The combined system will bring together nearly 56,000 employees, 56 hospitals and 4,300 providers across the Midwest. 

The merger comes at a time when Marshfield Clinic has expanded its services in Eau Claire following the closure of Hospital Sisters Health System, or HSHS. 

In May, Marshfield Clinic West Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Brandon Parkhurst said the Marshfield Medical Center-Eau Claire saw a 47 percent increase in ER patients and a 160 percent surge in labor and deliveries due to the closures.

The combination of Sanford Health and the Marshfield Clinic system is expected to be finalized by the end of the year with no immediate changes expected for the employees and patients each system serves.

Editor’s note: This story will be updated.