SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Billionaire and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford has newly donated $350 million to Sanford Health to support the development of a virtual center to provide health care to rural areas, the health system announced Wednesday, Sept. 8.

Sanford's donation to Sanford Health, the system renamed in honor of his generosity to it, is in addition to a $300 million donation announced earlier this year that went to the same cause, as well as an expansion of graduate medical education programs and the Sanford Sports Complex in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Leaders of the Sioux Falls-based health system said in March the donation then would help build out a virtual hospital for rural and underserved areas, but the details remained unclear. This latest donation, and the announcement of it, includes additional details.

T. Denny Sanford, the namesake benefactor for Sanford Health, is donating $25 million to jump start an initiative to bring free genetic testing to veterans served by Veterans Affairs medical centers. Special to The Forum
T. Denny Sanford, the namesake benefactor for Sanford Health, is donating $25 million to jump start an initiative to bring free genetic testing to veterans served by Veterans Affairs medical centers. Special to The Forum

The Sanford-funded initiative will create a "state-of-the-art virtual care center" to serve people across Sanford Health's footprint, the health system announced. The facility will also house innovation, education and research initiatives regarding digital health care.

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Sanford Health includes major medical facilities in South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota, include 46 hospitals, more than 200 clinics, and more than 200 Good Samaritan Society senior care locations in 26 states and 10 countries.

“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 the news release. “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.”

The new donation brings Sanford's donations to the health system, which bills itself as the nation's largest rural health care system, to nearly $1.5 billion since an initial $400 million donation in 2007.

“I am committed to seeing this initiative become a reality,” said Sanford., in the news release. “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.”