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Published March 23, 2011, 11:36 AM

Sanford Expanding Children's Clinic Initiative

Sanford Health is expanding a plan to open more children's clinics around the globe. The initiative originally involved five clinics — three in the U.S. and one each in Belize and Ireland.

By: Associated Press,

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Sanford Health is expanding a plan to open more children's clinics around the globe.

The initiative originally involved five clinics — three in the U.S. and one each in Belize and Ireland. The Dakotas-based health giant now plans "well over 20" children's clinics in the U.S. and abroad over the next decade, impacting 4 million children, Sanford vice president Dave Link told The Forum newspaper.

The children's clinic program seeks to improve access to children's health services. Sanford also will gain a better understanding of different approaches to medicine in various states and countries, Link said.

"We'd be able to really learn a lot about health care delivery and health care policy," he said.

Sanford looks for a local partner when building the clinics. One opening in Oceanside, Calif., on Thursday is in partnership with Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego. The project also received a $2.5 million donation from The Rose Foundation, a grant-making public charity. Sanford also is exploring a possible clinic in Ghana in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"We plan on doing this a long, long time," Link said.

The children's clinic initiative is underwritten by retired Sioux Falls, S.D., banker and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford's $400 million gift in 2007 to what has become Sanford Health. Link did not say how much of that money will go to the children's clinic program.

Sanford Health was formed by the merger of two health systems in the Dakotas in 2009. It is headquartered in Fargo and Sioux Falls, and has a presence in more than 100 communities in eight states. Sanford says it is the nation's largest not-for-profit rural health care provider.

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