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Heath care provider in Appleton to join Sanford out of S.D.

APPLETON -- After considering several possible partners, Appleton Area Health Services has chosen to enter into a contract with Sanford Health of Sioux Falls, S.D.

The health services relationship begins at the start of the new year, according to a joint announcement Th-ursday by the two partners.

The biggest, immediate benefit to the city-owned Appleton hospital and medical center will be the ability to take advantage of Sanford Health's volume buying power, according to Jason Carlson, CEO of Appleton Area Health Services. The hospital expects to realize savings in its purchases of everything from pharmaceuticals to medical supplies as a result.

The hospital and medical clinic will also receive educational services from Sanford.

The new partnership also opens up possibilities for sharing expertise, resources and providers with other neighboring facilities with Sanford ties, according to Carlson. Ortonville, Canby, Wheaton and Clear Lake, S.D., are among the neighboring health care centers with Sanford relationships.

Appleton Area Health Services is entering into a three-year contract under what Sanford terms an associate level of service. Sanford also offers services under managed, leased and owned arrangements.

The associate level relationship will allow Appleton Health Services to test-drive the partnership and determine if a continued or more involved arrangement is desired, according to Carlson.

He said patients will not likely notice any changes as a result of the new relationship. Their health care providers will continue to be free to refer them to specialists or other types of care, no differently than before, he said.

The Appleton hospital is a 15-bed critical care facility. The medical clinic is staffed with two primary care physicians and a mid-level provider. Appleton Health Services also offers a long-term care facility, congregate living facility, and home health services. The operations employ approximately 170 full-time and part-time people.

The hospital, clinic and senior living facilities had undergone a $4.9 million renovation that was completed in 2004.

Carlson emphasized that the relationship with Sanford does not affect management of the city-owned operation. He remains an employee of the city of Appleton, and the city remains responsible for all operations.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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