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Sanford Health: Dakotas-based hospital system considers expansion to China

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- Sanford Health is considering expanding to China.

The Dakotas-based hospital system is sending a team from Sioux Falls, S.D., in August to the country to see whether it is possible to open a pediatric clinic in the city of Ningo, a port on the East China Sea.

"Why China? One, because we want to learn about scale. And two, they have a real interest in discovering how health care is delivered and managed in the United States," Ruth Krystopolski, executive vice president of development and research, said.

Dave Link, senior executive vice president, will take a team of four to China next month to look at Ningo and possibly a second city for the clinic.

Sanford Health is based in Sioux Falls and Fargo. It has a presence in more than 100 communities in seven states, including Dickinson after a merger with Medcenter One, and bills itself as the nation's largest not-for-profit rural health care provider.

Sanford has opened or will soon open clinics in Ghana, Ireland and Israel. A team is currently in South America looking at possible clinic locations in Bolivia and Ecuador.

Jack Walters, associate professor of management at Dakota State University, said Sanford is exporting health care in a way that is similar to other U.S. industries.

"Certainly, when you're an organization like Sanford, you can look at ways of taking your good ideas to other parts of the world. That's what retailers and manufacturers have done," Walters said.