UnityPoint, Sanford Health explore merger

Two Midwestern health care organizations, UnityPoint Health and Sanford Health, have signed a letter of intent to explore a merger that would create a combined company with more than $11 billion in operating revenue, ranking it among the 15 largest nonprofit health systems in the country.

In announcing the decision, leadership teams from each organization said the new entity would emphasize personalized primary care. The new organization would employ 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, and other lines of business.

While the organizations are still in discussions, they have agreed on certain principles that will guide their due diligence during the next few months.

The new company would be led by Kelby Krabbenhoft, president and CEO of Sanford Health, which is headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Kevin Vermeer, president and CEO of UnityPoint Health, which includes UnityPoint-Meriter in Madison.

Krabbenhoft would serve as president and CEO, and Vermeer would serve as senior executive vice president. A new governing board would be established for the new company, made up of representatives from both legacy organizations.

Both organizations would continue to operate their respective medical groups and maintain longstanding relationships with independent physicians, hospitals, and other health care partners.

The merger transaction is subject to regulatory reviews, but leaders hope to have the process completed by the end of 2019.