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What's the hurry at MeritCare?

MeritCare's consideration of a possible merger with Sanford Health of Sioux Falls, S.D., is not going down well in Fargo for several valid reasons.

First, MeritCare's management clearly misread sentiment about a merger that could result in the Fargo facility being the junior partner in the South Dakota operation. That outcome would not be acceptable because of MeritCare's history as a locally based regional medical center.

Second, MeritCare has been less than forthcoming about the reasons for the merger and its potential impacts on the community.

Third, MeritCare operates like a private business, but it also is a community-based and community-supported institution. Therefore, its management has a responsibility to the community that goes beyond the perceived benefits of a merger with an out-of-state company.

For all, and more, of the above reasons, 10 influential Fargo residents - most of them with service on MeritCare's board of trustees -- formed "Citizens for MeritCare." "What's the rush?" asked committee member Bruce Furness at a Friday news conference.

Good question. Another good question: Where's the transparency?

MeritCare is an excellent facility. Maybe a merger is a good idea. Maybe it's not. But because the medical center is such an important community institution, management cannot circle the wagons when questions are raised. Slow down. Answer the questions. -- The Forum