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Published July 20, 2011, 09:28 AM

Sanford Health finalizing clinics in Ghana

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Efforts by Sanford Health to open a series of medical clinics in the African nation of Ghana are proceeding without the help of billionaire Bill Gates.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Efforts by Sanford Health to open a series of medical clinics in the African nation of Ghana are proceeding without the help of billionaire Bill Gates.

The health network based in the Dakotas had been talking with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation about a joint venture, and Sanford CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft led a delegation to Seattle earlier this year to meet with the Microsoft founder.

Gates and his foundation have a plan to improve vaccination rates in poor countries, but Sanford marketing official Andrew Richburg told the Argus Leader for a story published Wednesday that the foundation is moving forward without Gates because of differing goals.

While Gates wants to bring vaccines and fresh water to people who lack access to both, Sanford aims to set up full-scale medical clinics around the world. The two groups knew from the start that their missions were not identical, but they hoped they would be able to develop ideas on how a joint venture might work, Richburg said.

He said the hour-long session made it evident a partnership wouldn't work at this time.

"It was clear the Gates Foundation is not about the permanent health care structure. That's what we do," he said.

Richburg said the idea of working together in the future in Africa is still a possibility.

"We are on different tracks. At some point, those tracks might come together," he said.

Sanford Senior Executive Vice President Dave Link is in Ghana this week to finalize details of the clinics. Sanford plans to hire locals to run the Ghana operation.

Gates Foundation officials could not be reached Tuesday for comment. They said in a previous email that they do not comment on upcoming projects.

Sanford Health already has children's clinics in Belize and Ireland, as well as some in states outside the Midwest. It said earlier this year that it plans more than 20 additional such clinics in the U.S. and abroad over the next decade.

Sanford Health was formed by the merger of two health systems in the Dakotas in 2009. It is headquartered in Fargo, N.D., 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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