Star Tribune: Patient Care Advocates Ask About Plans for Abortion, LGBTQ Care in Sanford-Fairview Merger Hearing

For many years, Fairview has demonstrated an extensive commitment to providing world-class gender-affirming care for transgender patients, said Phil Duran, a patient advocate with St. Paul-based Rainbow Health Minnesota. His group, however, has not found evidence that Sanford provides those same health care services to patients, Duran said.

Fairview was founded by the Lutheran church, but now talks about its secular mission, he said. The mission and values at Sanford, by contrast, are described in “sectarian” terms.

“I am not here to criticize anybody who provides health care based on their faith,” Duran said. “But as a lawyer, I know that some individuals and institutions have used religious beliefs as the basis for denying access to care, particularly for LGBTQ patients. The strongest objections tend to be providing and covering gender-affirming care — exactly the areas where Sanford’s current practices leave us most concerned.”


Hereford, Fairview CEO, said Fairview was the first health system in Minnesota to introduce a new type of care for mental health patients called Empath units. They are designed to provide better treatment and management of mental health crises than is possible in emergency rooms.

But the addition of the Empath unit at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina followed the closure of inpatient mental health beds, said Sue Abderholden, executive director of NAMI Minnesota and Board of Director Member at Large of Rainbow Health.

“Our main concern is their commitment, or lack of it, to provide quality mental health services in order to meet the increased needs of our state,” Abderholden said during Tuesday’s public meeting. “The last merger that Fairview did with HealthEast resulted in decreased access to inpatient mental health services.”

Read the full article on