Hospital merger met with resistance at St. Paul hearing - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Hospital merger met with resistance at St. Paul hearing

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Sanford Health, based out of South Dakota, wants to assume control of Fairview Health Services and the University of Minnesota hospital in the metro, but the merger was met with resistance on Sunday.

The majority of the weekend hearing at the Capitol was spent by Attorney General Lori Swanson, who grilled representatives from Sanford Health for not being as transparent and forthcoming with information through the process as she would have liked.

Employees, patients and various representatives from the health organizations involved also attended.

"We approach everything that we do with a focus on the patient and what's best for the patient,," said Becky Nelson, of Sanford Health. "So, it's important that you have that conversation about what benefits the patient may experience as a result of this merger."

Fairview Health Services is a private, non-profit corporation that operates nine hospitals employing 22,000. While Sanford Health, which is headquartered in Sioux Falls, is also considered a non-profit, it also has several for-profit branches. That's where many of the concerns about the merger arise -- especially since Fairview is so largely supported by Minnesotans through tax breaks, donations and state aid.

"I don't think anyone from anywhere in the country can walk into Minnesota with deep pockets and say that we're going to take over this institution just to make it a greater production of capital for their own pockets and their businesses in another state," said patient Gary Printup. "The people of Minnesota would not want that."

Sunday's meeting marked the first of several public hearings on the matter, but the interim-CEO of Fairview warned that the merger will not happen if the University of Minnesota Medical Center opposes it.

Even so, Fairview representatives said there is a healthcare affordability crisis in the country and they must explore options to reduce expenses.

Yet, a former representative of the Minnesota Hospital Association told FOX 9 News the merger would be less like selling a public library to a Barnes & Noble, but more like selling a library to Wal-Mart. He, like many others at the first hearing, seemed keen to end the merger talks.

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