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MeritCare-Sanford merger out-lined at Perham Power Hour

"One of the concerns is that 'it's too big,'" said Chuck Gulsvig, referring to the recently announced merger of Sanford Health and MeritCare.

He continued, "...and it is big, but with that comes sta-bility."

Stability and sustainability were some of the key points he touched on throughout his presentation at the March 9 Perham Area Chamber of Commerce "Power Hour" meeting. Chuck Gulsvig is the Public Affairs Director with Sanford Health and MeritCare.

Gulsvig will become a familiar face around the Per-ham area, helping to forge a strong collaboration between Perham Memorial Hospital and Home and Sanford Health. He reinforced the idea that the two healthcare entities can be much stronger together.

Talking specifically about Perham, Gulsvig said, "The merger means stable and sustainable rural healthcare."

It is this "integrated care" model that Gulsvig sees as the preferred model for healthcare reform, bringing all healthcare elements under one umbrella. The merger now means they are operating 30 hospitals and over 170 clinics, providing more than 1,500 beds.

When asked about any specific services that might become available in Perham as a result of the merger, Gulsvig said he couldn't promise anything. However, he said that it is a much more likely possibility, with the increased stability the merger will provide. In addition to the possibility of added serv-ices, the benefit of having a large network of colleagues to collaborate with was brought up.

In a time of increasing healthcare challenges, the main issues that Gulsvig said they are looking at addressing are an aging population, healthcare reform, increased utilization of healthcare, ad-vances in technology, a phy-sician shortage, and increased pharmaceutical costs.

As for the lengthy "Sanford Health and Merit-Care" name, Gulsvig said he anticipates the name will be changed sometime this sum-mer. In the meantime, busi-ness at the Perham hospital will continue to run as usual.