Sanford: Get lost, Kennebec. Hello USD!

Tuesday, we reported that Sanford Health is apparently closing its clinic in Kennebec, reportedly because the clinic is losing money and seeing too few patients to justify its existence.

I say “apparently” and “reportedly” because nobody from Sanford wanted to touch the story with a 10-foot pole. Everybody we called either declined to comment, passed us off to others who weren’t available or failed to call us back.

Of course, our story could have been wrong, judging by this message on Sanford’s Kennebec Clinic webpage:

At Sanford Health in Kennebec, SD, we combine a tradition of transforming health care with ensuring that every community member has access to the highest quality care and services close to home. Since 1981, we’ve been proud to be part of the Kennebec community. We celebrate life and join together to tackle the toughest of challenges.

Surely a nonprofit organization dedicated to “ensuring that every community member has access to the highest quality care and services close to home” would do everything possible to keep a rural clinic open. Surely, as Sanford Health says on that webpage, the venerable nonprofit will “join together” with the people of Kennebec and “tackle the toughest of challenges.”

After all, providing health care where it’s needed is the mission of a nonprofit health-care provider, right?

Or not.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but when you contrast Sanford’s decision to close its Kennebec clinic against the following news, you get the sense that maybe Sanford has lost sight of its roots and traditional purpose.

VERMILLION, S.D. (AP) — Sanford Health is giving $20 million to the University of South Dakota for a new arena. It is the third significant financial move for the Dakotas-based health network in less than a week.

(Click here to read the rest.)

I don’t know what it costs to keep a rural health-care clinic open, but I’m guessing $20 million would just about cover it. That’s probably oversimplifying the issue, but the issue doesn’t look very complex to people in Kennebec. In their eyes, a giant health-care provider with hundreds of millions of dollars is closing a rural clinic to save a few bucks, even as that same giant health-care provider throws money around like it’s growing on trees.

14 thoughts on “Sanford: Get lost, Kennebec. Hello USD!

  1. Sanford makes me want to puke! T. Denny is a prime example of what is wrong with society. He made millions bilking the poor with subprime loans.

    • I love how people a business keeps all its money in the same pocket.. It is a shame that Kennebec could be losing this clinic but how far away is Chamberlain? Presho? It takes longer to drive from the west side of Sioux Falls to Sanford or Avera than it takes to go from Kennebec to either of these other communities. I think the problem is with someone that has the kind of money to ‘throw arouond’ that t denny has. The fact is, T-Denny earned it and can do whatever he wants with it. 2ndly, he could just spend it on himself like many rich folk do and almost all middle and poor do. As a matter of fact, many get money from guys like t-denny to pay for their food, housing, clothes etc. Not just in the taxes he pays, or the money he donates but in the jobs he has made possible for thousands of employees. Lastly, health care is like the schools in the state. We should probably have a decent discussion on how many schools are reasonable for each area of our state. Health care is expensive, having a clinic in Lane, SD isn’t practical and only adds to the charges already being provided. Also, is Sanford and Avera non-profit or not-for-profit? I believe there is a difference and each comes with a different set of rules. Some of the statements that are being made are very unfair to a generous man, ie. Sanford laboratory, the Sioux Falls convention center, hospital clinics around the world etc.

      • If I am reading your statement how many schools do we need in the state to mean that children do not have the right to go close to home–our county has one high school and two elementaries. Are you implying that we have two too many? And a 40 minute drive to a doctor in Sioux Falls? And, I think that would get you a doctor and not a PA. Also the gift to USD was from Sanford Health not the man so the money to keep Kennebec open was there–after all there is only a PA there one day a week and a doctor 1/2 day. The Avera group has the clinic in Presho and it has a PA every day and once folks start going to the Avera Clinic they aren’t going to go to the Sanford Hospitals–Mitchell is only a 100 miles and Chamberlain does have an Avera Clinic. Also poor Casey pharmacy in Chamberlain will lose business as there is a pharmacy in Presho. Of course we are only poor ranchers and farmers out in this area who according to you have too many schools and can drive 30 miles or more to see a PA or a doctor. You want to buy my gas?

  2. I will not go to a sanfords ever again. If they can throw all of this money around they must be screwing or over charging any way.

  3. Wow, Apolitcal. You seem to be really ignorant.
    The reason I say that, is this: Despite the hospital putting his name on the building, T. Denny Sanford has nothing to do with the business decisions of Sanford Healthcare.

    And he never has.

    As far as the businesses he does run, First Premier Bank and First Premier Bankcard have never made sub-prime loans. You might be referring to the sub-prime credit cards offered the Bankcard. More tightly regulated than just about anything else in our country, these cards are just about the only way someone with no or bad credit can improve their credit score. If they seem like a bad deal to you, congratulations you don’t need them. For those of us who do need them, those cards are a godsend when rebuilding your life after bankruptcy or divorce.

    Get your facts right before you slander a decent man who owns local, moral companies.

      • Yep, nothing on that 3 year old site disagrees with my ‘facts’. The Fed overreached, and Primer Bankcard called their bluff. The company is run ethically. End of story.

        The “dwindling fortune” is because he plans to die broke, by giving his personal wealth away not because of the company’s tangle with the feds. He gave the hospital money, and continues to support philanthropic efforts all across the upper mid-west.

        Look, I’m sorry that your local hospital is closing. Blame Sanford Health if you want to. Leave T. Denny out of it, because he’s a damn decent guy.

  4. I tend to agree that 20 mil would keep Kennebec open for YEARS. What about the money Sanford is using to build the new center in Sioux Falls also that has the sanford name on it, not only that but the other one at USD, my opinion is he DID forget what they (Sanford) set out to do. The main reason they are probably are closing it, is because most of the patients are more than likely on medicare and medicade patients, these towns are full of elderly, and low income families . Jobs just aren’t available up in the area, so now he put at least two AWESOME nurses out of jobs. As on of the previous said “T. Denny Sanford has nothing to do with the business decisions of Sanford Healthcare.” , you can’t tell me he has no say in how Sanford’s money is spent, that has to be nothing but a HUGE lie!!! IF IT WERE ATTACHED TO MY NAME I WOULD BE MAKING SURE I HAD A SAY IN HOW MY MONEY WAS BEING SPENT. Sanford has gotten too big for their own good, and quality medical care in SF in lacking also!!!

  5. A few things you should know, from a former Sanford employee. Several years ago, when Mr. Sanford felt around under his couch cushions and found $400M, that money was immediately placed in a separate legal Sanford Health entity. The $400M was on one side, and clinical medicine, all of the places that you go to see your doctors, was on the other side. One might think that $400M would improve the healthcare you receive, perhaps by investing more in facilities and paying the nurses more. The irony is that all of the doctors and nurses who provide you with healthcare are under more financial pressure than ever, because they haven’t seen one dime of that $400M. What is unclear to me is where the money for all of these sports enterprises has come from. Tens of millions to football programs in North and South Dakota, tens of millions to build sports facilities (a.k.a.”The Pentagon”) in Sioux Falls, and money even to build a hotel! Has that money come from Mr. Sanford’s $400M donation? Or has it come from operating expenses of Sanford Health? The general public should also be aware that Sanford Health is deeply in debt…over $500 million in debt…this is public knowledge, you can google it. So if the multi-million donations to sports enterprises have not come from Mr. Sanford, then that means that Sanford Health borrowed the money to make those donations! Crazy!! One final thought, it IS your business what Sanford does with their money. They are a non-profit and don’t pay one dime in taxes. If you feel that they are not adequately serving the healthcare needs of the public, you need to let your Senators and Congress-persons know how you feel.

  6. From Sunday’s Argus Leader:

    Sanford Health officials leave for Ghana today to explain their work at a medical conference that could set the stage for further expansion in Africa.

    The Dakotas-based health network is in the process of opening several primary care clinics in Ghana, with a plan to be in 10 locations in that Atlantic coast country by 2016. …

  7. Sanford should spend their excess money on lowering the costs of heathcare instead of advertising.

  8. I happen to be a Sanford patient and am very satisfied with the care I receive at any Sanford facility I have been to. I understand that a clinic may not be feasible in the small town of Kennebec, but perhaps those could travel the short distance to the Chamberlain or Pierre Sanford Clinics.

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