Rural clinics joining Sanford Health-MeritCare
Sanford Health-MeritCare now has ties with a system of rural clinics based in Oakes that serves seven communities in southeastern North Dakota. Southeast Medical Center, led by a husband-and-wife physician team, will continue with all of its 45 e...
Sanford Health-MeritCare now has ties with a system of rural clinics based in Oakes that serves seven communities in southeastern North Dakota.
Southeast Medical Center, led by a husband-and-wife physician team, will continue with all of its 45 employees, and no immediate changes are expected, representatives of MeritCare and the rural clinic system said Wednesday.
"They have an excellent reputation, and we would want to be associated with them and we want to help them take care of their patients," said Paulette Amundson, a registered nurse and MeritCare's vice president of community clinics.
The two parties expect to reach a final agreement by July 1. Once completed, the seven clinics will become part of the Sanford Health-MeritCare system.
Southeast Medical Center was founded 32 years ago by Drs. Rup and Vani Nagala, who expanded their practice over time from Oakes to establish clinics in Gwinner, Forman, Lidgerwood, Ellendale, LaMoure and Lisbon.
That service area, roughly a 50-mile radius centered in Oakes, fills in the gap between the service areas of Fargo-based MeritCare and Sanford Health, with headquarters in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The two regional health systems merged last fall.
Combining with Sanford Health-MeritCare will mean "more continuity than change" for patients, Dr. Vani Nagala said, and will help to strengthen health delivery for residents in the area.
Perhaps more medical specialists will be able to visit the Southeastern Medical Center clinics, Dr. Rup Nagala said. The association will also help train staff, he said.
"We strongly believe in training our people."
The hospital in Oakes is owned by Catholic Health Initiatives. MeritCare has a referral relationship with the hospital that will continue, Amundson said.
Outside of Fargo-Moorhead, MeritCare has 15 regional clinics in North Dakota and 19 in Minnesota. Roughly 60 percent of its patients come from outside Cass and Clay counties.
More mergers are possible with other rural clinics or hospitals, Amundson said. "We're open to talks with anyone," she said. "We certainly try to build relationships."
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