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Sanford Health gives back by providing care to those who need it most, funding community programs

Community Commitment Report details pledge to patients, communities

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Sanford Health is dedicated to ensuring high-quality care is accessible to all patients, regardless of where they live, health challenges or other barriers to care. This pledge is detailed in Sanford Health’s Community Commitment Report, a comprehensive view of how the largest nonprofit rural health care provider in the United States gives back to the communities it serves throughout its 250,000 square-mile footprint.

Two-thirds of the patients Sanford Health serves live in rural areas where many face unique challenges. They are more likely to have fewer resources to access care and experience higher rates of poverty, food and housing insecurity, and chronic disease, which often lead to poorer health outcomes.

“As a nonprofit health system, our sole purpose is to take care of our communities. Sanford Health is committed to supporting our patients, residents and communities in ways that extend beyond the walls of our clinics, hospitals and facilities,” said Bill Gassen, president and CEO of Sanford Health. “From our 3D mobile mammography clinics to our wellness pantries and integrated behavioral health programs, Sanford Health is leading change that directly addresses social determinants of health, bridges gaps in care and benefits our communities.”

Each year, Sanford Health provides hundreds of millions of dollars in community services and programs. From providing free or reduced-cost care to more than 50,000 patients to addressing food insecurity needs across the region, below are examples of community benefit programs in which Sanford Health is focused on strengthening the health and well-being of the communities it serves.

Care for All

• Sanford Health provides medically necessary care to anyone in need, regardless of their ability to pay.

• Sanford Health provides financial assistance to 90% of patients who apply for it, which can range from a reduction in the balance to complete forgiveness.

• Sanford Health’s prescription assistance program offers tiered assistance based on income level to help patients afford their medication.

• Sanford Health offers a database to assist patients with finding and accessing community resources. The website compiles information to help address basic needs such as housing, food, transportation and childcare.

Expanded Access

• Sanford Health’s fleet of AirMed helicopters and airplanes offers rapid access to specialty care, having safely transported more than 100,000 patients annually.

• 3D mobile mammography clinics conduct 9,700 visits annually, bringing advanced diagnostic services to underserved populations in North Dakota and South Dakota.

• Over the last decade, Sanford Health has provided more than 760,000 virtual consults, amounting to over 29 million miles saved by patients who didn’t have to travel long distances on country roads or through harsh winter weather to access high-quality care.

Behavioral Health

• To help reinforce healthy behaviors in vulnerable populations, Sanford Chamberlain has implemented a health hygiene program to provide diapers, bedding sets, nursing pillows, infant swings, bathtubs and other items to pregnant, low-income patients.

• Integrated health therapists (IHTs) are embedded into primary care clinics and oncology departments across the Sanford Health footprint to reduce barriers to access for patients with mental health needs.

• Sanford Bemidji established one of the state’s first EmPATH units, (Emergency Psychiatric Assessment, Treatment and Healing) to provide urgent mental health care and treatment for adults and children in crisis in a supportive, calming environment.

Medical Research

• Sanford Health participates in more than 400 clinical trials centered on recruiting patients in rural populations to bring innovative treatments to those communities.

• Sanford Research offers cancer clinical trials in seven locations – each site collaborating to advance cancer research and care across the Midwest and give patients access to early-phase clinical trials close to home.

• Additional research efforts include the PLEDGE study for type 1 diabetes and celiac disease and the CoRDS platform for rare diseases.

Community Outreach

• In 2022, Sanford Health provided significant financial support to over 500 nonprofit organizations serving communities across its footprint.

• Food insecurity is addressed with wellness pantries like the Kid’s Kitchen at Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls, distributing more than 3,100 pounds of food weekly. Since 2019, Sanford Bismarck has sponsored the Sanford Cares program, supplying food-filled backpacks to Title I schools.

• Medical care is provided in homeless shelters and through medical resident care and community paramedics in Fargo and Moorhead.

• Child safety and development are supported with programs like Safe Kids and CHILD Services, offering medical care for abuse victims and assistance to low-income pregnant patients.

Health Equity

• By offering culturally sensitive care and support, Sanford is working to address disparities in health care access and outcomes faced by Indigenous populations. At Sanford Bemidji, traditional Native American healing practices like pipe ceremonies and sweat lodges are incorporated into the Wellbriety program.

• In 2022, Sanford Medical Center Fargo was named a top performer on the Healthcare Equality Index for creating equitable and inclusive access to care to LGBTQ+ patients.

• Sanford Health’s Equity in Education scholarship program serves underrepresented and traditionally underserved populations seeking higher education.

Workforce Development

• Through the Classrooms to Careers program, Sanford Health career development consultants work with high school students to explore careers and reduce barriers for students looking to continue their education after high school.

• Sanford Health has sponsored 218 students through the Build Dakota scholarship program, covering tuition programs, fees and necessary supplies for students pursuing technical education in many high-demand fields, including health care.

• Sanford Health has also made an unprecedented expansion in its graduate medical education programs by fully funding 15 additional residency and fellowship programs.

About Sanford Health

Sanford Health, the largest rural health system in the United States, is dedicated to transforming the health care experience and providing access to world-class health care in America’s heartland. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the organization serves 1.4 million patients and nearly 200,000 health plan members across 250,000 square miles. The integrated health system has 45 hospitals, 211 clinic locations, more than 160 Good Samaritan Society senior living centers, 2,900 Sanford physicians and advanced practice providers, 540 active clinical trials, and nine world clinic locations around the globe. Learn more about Sanford Health's commitment to shaping the future of rural health care across the lifespan at or Sanford Health News.


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