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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A resistance to Sanford Health propaganda

The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.

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There have been several (opinion piece) articles recently published regarding the merger of the Sanford and Fairview Hospital companies that frame the situation favorably and portray the merger in a positive light.

Because of this, I feel obligated to respond and fight back against the pro-merger rhetoric that seems to be being pushed.

First of all, the authors of some of these pieces include the CEOs of Sanford and Fairview, and a member of the Bemidji Chamber of Commerce, all of whom potentially stand to benefit either financially or politically from the merger. Furthermore, the substance of their arguments were rather empty.

One of the main arguments for the merger during the public meeting on Jan. 17 was the ability to expand the virtual care infrastructure. Although virtual health care can be useful, it's likely not as valuable to you as they claim.

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It is likely that most patients don’t feel comfortable talking about their most sensitive issues over a video call to an unfamiliar doctor on the other side of the state. It is more practical to see local physicians that you know and trust — but this is expensive and cuts into hospital profit margins.

This is the underlying problem with Sanford, along with all other for-profit medical institutions, their goal is not to get you healthy, it’s to get the money from your wallet.

In addition to the unashamed propaganda, there is little evidence suggesting that the mergers between these large hospitals would improve patients care and health outcome. In fact, further consolidating the hospital systems limits alternative health care options, forcing patients to settle for potentially overpriced and subpar care.

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Sanford claims to care about patients, and I’m sure that the medical staff is sincere, but the hospital higher-ups also care about getting as much money as possible, as any business would.

This is also likely why Sanford sponsors local events and youth extracurriculars and paid to get their name on the event center. It’s not out of pure charity, but rather an investment to improve their public image, so you think less about their nefarious business practices.

Overall, this merger will only give you less power and Sanford much more. I encourage everyone to fill out the online survey regarding the merger on the Attorney General's website, ag.state.mn.us/sanford-fairview/form.asp and call (800) 657-3787 to tell them not to let the merger happen.

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