A planned merger between the parent organizations of the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society and Ebenezer Senior Living, which has been facing challenges since January, now has been delayed further.

The Sioux Falls, SD-based Sanford Health system, the parent of the Good Samaritan Society, and Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services, which includes Ebenezer Senior Living, originally announced plans to merge the health systems in November.

With an original closing goal of March 31, the target subsequently was changed to May 31, but closing now is planned for August, the Star Tribune reported

The health systems also said Monday that they would provide a 90-day notice of the closing, per a request from Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office. 

“We respect the thorough review underway by the Attorney General’s Office and are honoring their request for more time as we continue work toward finalizing our combination,” the health systems said in a joint statement. “We remain confident in the benefits of the merger for our people, patients and communities and our shared vision to advance world-class healthcare for all we serve.”

In January, Ellison called on the health systems to delay the merger. His office released a statement at that time saying that the providers had yet to comply with repeated requests for information. The University of Minnesota Fairview, a partner with Fairview Health Services, has been a vocal opponent of the merger as well. According to the Star Tribune, the University of Minnesota indicated that the proposed merger was moving too fast and did not adequately consider its interests, including its mission of providing academic healthcare.

John Styles, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office, told the McKnight’s Business Daily on Tuesday that the office learned last week of the latest delay.

“Although we are still learning the details of Fairview’s plans, we agree that it is imperative for Fairview leadership to focus their attention on the critical issues facing the health system — including its declining financial condition and its relationship with the University of Minnesota,” Styles said.

“In the meantime,” he continued, “the Attorney General’s investigation will continue. Sanford and Fairview are still collectively expressing an intent to merge and have agreed to give the Attorney General’s Office at least a 90-day notice before any new target closing date. We will continue to investigate issues like the circumstances surrounding Fairview’s declining financial health and its plans for a path forward.”

The Good Samaritan Society was listed as the second largest not-for-profit multi-site senior living and care organization in the country based on the total number of units on the 2022 LeadingAge Ziegler 200 lists. It ranked No. 1 for skilled nursing, No. 3 for assisted living and No. 4 for independent living.

Ebenezer is Minnesota’s largest senior living operator. It also made the 2022 LZ 200 list of largest not-for-profit multi-site senior living and care organizations in the country, at No. 158 overall, No. 56 for assisted living, No. 104 for skilled nursing and No. 197 for independent living.