Sanford Health receives $350M for virtual care center to support rural health

Sanford Health, one of the largest U.S. health systems, announced today a $350 million donation to launch a new virtual care center that aims to support rural healthcare in the Midwest.  

The virtual care center will serve patients in Sanford Health’s network, and will also be the home base of several innovation, education and research initiatives aimed at advancing digital healthcare.  

“It is crucial we continue to break new ground in how we bring the best of today’s digital world directly to our patients, with seamless, convenient and world-class care for the communities we serve,” said Bill Gassen, president and CEO of Sanford Health, in a statement. “The virtual care initiative will accomplish this and deliver medical services to communities, patients and long-term care residents around the globe when and where they’re most needed.” 

Since March, South Dakota billionaire Denny Sanford has committed a total of $650 million to the health system, bringing his lifetime giving thus far to Sanford to approximately $1.5 billion, according to the health provider. He has vowed to “die broke” and has given to the state government and lawmakers, as well as universities and children’s charities. 

“I am committed to seeing this initiative become a reality,” Sanford said in a statement. “I continue to give to Sanford Health because I believe that supporting the people and communities in the regions they serve is the best investment I can make.”  

RELATED: Sanford Health CEO steps down after sparking controversy for not wearing mask  

Sanford’s latest donation comes about a year since media outlets reported that he was under investigation for possible possession of child pornography. In August of this year, the South Dakota Supreme Court reportedly weighed whether to unseal documents related to that investigation. 

Gassen told South Dakota Public Broadcasting back in March that it took the reports of the investigation seriously, but was “satisfied that they were not substantiated.” Gassen himself was appointed CEO last December after the sudden departure of Sanford Health's previous CEO in November over his refusal to wear a mask. Sanford Health had been in talks to merge with Intermountain Healthcare, but those discussions have since come to a halt.