by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | March 23, 2021
Sanford Health (Sanford) is planning the construction of a virtual hospital to provide affordable care to rural and underserved Midwestern communities.
The initiative is supported by $300 million provided by South Dakota businessman Denny Sanford, whom Sanford Health named itself after in 2007.
“Anchored by a cutting-edge flagship command center in Sioux Falls, a network of satellite clinics will provide remote access to our specialists for consultations, patient monitoring, assisted living support, critical care, mental health and more. This will allow patients to get quality care close to home,” Dr. Jeremy Cauwels, Sanford Health chief physician, told HCB News.
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The virtual hospital will service communities, patients and long-term care residents across Sanford’s network of hospitals and clinics. It is expected to increase opportunities to supply care in communities as well as long-term care locations, while making it easier to care for a variety of complex chronic conditions and care transitions. Travel for routine care among patients is also expected to drop or be eliminated all together.
Sanford also plans to invest the donation in construction with its academic partners for eight new graduate medical residencies and fellowships in critical specialty areas. This is expected to double opportunities for medical school training and provide highly-sought clinical expertise, resources and subspecialties to the care of patients close to home. It is seen as essential, due to the recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals being an ongoing challenge for rural regions, which are home to almost 20% of the U.S. population.
The remaining portion will go toward the expansion of the Sanford Sports Complex in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to promote healthier and active lifestyles and increase access to sports opportunities for underserved youth. Year-round athletic opportunities will be available to all ages, interests and abilities, including soccer, baseball and softball fields. Sanford expects approximately one million new visitors over five years to participate in tournaments, sports training programs and youth and adult league games, which will benefit the region economically.
The virtual hospital will be based at the Sanford Sports Complex and is scheduled to be operational in the next three to five years.