ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson held a public hearing Sunday on a proposal that would give a South Dakota-based company control over Fairview Health Services and the University of Minnesota's medical center.
It was a hearing meant to find answers but instead seemed to generate more questions
"On the one hand Mr. Krabbenhoft, the CEO of Sanford, indicates that the discussions are early. On the other hand I've been told that Sanford and Fairview have been meeting in weekly synergy meetings since last year in Sioux Falls," Swanson said.
Becky Nelson, senior VP a Sanford, responded that's not true.
"We have not met weekly. In fact the group that we brought together has only met once and then some of the leadership with Sanford and Fairview have met a couple times in a smaller group," Nelson said.
What those meetings could lead to exactly neither Sanford nor Fairview would say insisting it's too early to confirm anything. Deal or no deal Swanson pressed for answers
"Nothing could be more inappropriate than the use of the term takeover. In mergers of equals the resulting parent is close to equal numbers of directors from each of the merging organizations," Nelson said.
Fairview interim CEO Chuck Mooty said it's looking to form a partnership that will make it stronger, just like other institutions.
"Locally, Park Nicollet and Health Partners have combined and we recently heard about the new partnership between Mayo and Shriners.
The U of M, which transferred ownership of its medical center to Fairview in 1997, said it's concerned too, even offering to buy Fairview itself.
"We have very serious and important concerns about protecting public interest, protecting the land grant institution," Mark Rotenberg, U of M general counsel, said during the hearing.
Swanson plans to hold another hearing in a few weeks.
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