Good Sam, Ebenezer May Join Forces in Sanford Health, Fairview Merger

Sanford Health, the parent organization behind senior living operator Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society; and Fairview Health which has Ebenezer under its umbrella, are seeking to join forces.

The two organizations have signed a non-binding letter of intent to join forces and create a new health system in the process. The nonprofits plan to remain separate and operate per usual until the transaction closes, a representative for Sanford told Senior Housing News. It’s not clear whether the two organizations’ senior living arms would remain separate in the merger.

The intended merger, announced Tuesday, would create a health system that, all told, would rank among the country’s largest non-profit operators of senior housing and extend into both rural and urban markets.


It would also create an operating company with some innovative projects and initiatives underway, including Ebenezer’s pivot to senior housing co-op development and its new Estoria brand.

According to the most recent LeadingAge Ziegler 200 report, Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based Good Sam ranked as the second-largest multi-site operator in 2022, with 15,447 units. Ebenezer was the top senior living nonprofit for managed communities, with 8,528 units managed for other owners, according to the report.

Sanford Health CEO Bill Gassen is slated to serve as president and CEO of the combined health system, with Fairview Health Services CEO James Hereford planned to serve as co-CEO for one year once the merger closes.


“As a combined system, we can do more to expand access to complex and highly specialized care, utilize innovative technology and provide a broader range of virtual services; unlock greater research capabilities and transform the care delivery experience to ensure every patient receives the best care no matter where they live,” Gassen said in a press release about the move.

A combination of the health systems also would give employees more career paths and chances for clinical advancement.

The organizations expect to sign a definitive agreement and close the transaction in 2023, pending a regulatory review.

The move would not be the first merger in recent memory for Sanford Health, which joined forces with the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society in 2019.

It also would not be the first time that Sanford and Fairview have considered combining. In 2013, they reportedly attempted a merger that ultimately did not come to pass, according to Minnesota-based news publication the Star Tribune.

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