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Sanford Health: Series of children's clinics planned

Sanford Health is embarking on an expanded mission to establish "well over 20" children's clinics outside its service area in the United States and abroad.

The initiative, which originally set a goal of five children's clinics, seeks local partners, and each location is intended to be self-sustaining after three years.

Dave Link, Sanford's executive vice president, spoke of the clinic announcement this week, as the health system prepared to open its second children's clinic Thursday in Oceanside, Calif.

"We're looking at many more clinics in the years ahead," he said. "Right now we're planning well over 20. We're looking at opportunities all over the country and all over the globe."

The children's clinic program seeks to improve access to children's health services. Also, by providing medical services in different states and different countries, Sanford will gain a better understanding of different approaches, Link said.

"We'd be able to really learn a lot about health care delivery and health care policy," he added.

As reported earlier, Sanford is exploring the possibility of building a clinic in the African country of Ghana, possibly in a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that also could include providing safe drinking water.

"I think it's a high probability that we'll probably do something there," Link said, referring to Ghana.

In each case, Sanford looks for a local partner in deciding where to locate a clinic. The new clinic in Oceanside, for example, is a partnership between Sanford Children's Clinic and Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego. The project also received a $2.5 million donation from The Rose Foundation.

Over the next decade, Sanford expects to open clinics in the United States and elsewhere capable of making an impact on the lives of 4 million children.

"We plan on doing this a long, long time," Link said. The children's clinic initiative is a program underwritten by Denny Sanford's $400 million gift to Sanford Health in 2007.

Since then, his total donations to the health system that bears his name is estimated between $650 million to $700 million, according to Sanford executives. Link did not say how much of the $400 million gift will go to the children's clinic program.

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