“We are disappointed that the UnityPoint
Health board failed to embrace the vision,”
Sanford Health President and CEO
Kelby Krabbenhoft said.

Merger talks have been called off between Des Moines, IA-based UnityPoint Health and Sioux Falls, SD-based Sanford Health, which finalized its affiliation with the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society earlier this year.

Good Sam is the second-largest multi-site not-for-profit provider of senior living and care in the country, according to the 2019 LeadingAge Ziegler 200.

“We were excited at the opportunity our combination would have provided to create a new health system of national prominence. The executive management teams and physicians worked diligently for 18 months to provide a merger recommendation to the boards,” Sanford Health President and CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft said in a statement. “We are disappointed that the UnityPoint Health board failed to embrace the vision. Our focus now is on the patients and communities we serve and the 50,000 people working tirelessly to support them.”

In a letter posted on the UnityPoint website, UnityPoint President and CEO Kevin Vermeer said the organizations now would “pursue our individual missions separately, as high-performing health systems with unique strengths and cultures.”

“We hold a deep respect for Sanford and will explore opportunities to work together in future on behalf of the people and communities we each serve,” he said, adding that UnityHealth “will keep seeking new ways to do better.”

When they announced their talks in June, the two organizations had hoped to complete the transaction by the end of the year, pending regulatory reviews.

Combined, Sanford and UnityPoint would have ranked among the top 15 largest nonprofit health systems in the country, with more than $11 billion in operating revenue, according to the organizations. The new entity, with Krabbenhoft at the helm and Vermeer as senior executive vice president, would have employed more than 83,000 staff members and 2,600 physicians and have operations in 26 states and nine countries, including long-term care, hospitals, clinics, health plans and networks, research and other lines of business, they said.

At the time of the announcement, Sanford counted among its offerings more than 200 Good Sam senior living and care locations in 26 states and nine countries, as well as 44 hospitals. UnityPoint, which operates in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, had 32 hospitals and 280 physician clinics and offered home care, inpatient skilled nursing, transitional care, rehabilitation, inpatient behavioral healthcare for those aged 55 or more years, and a post-acute provider team that provides care at preferred long-term care facilities.