UPDATE: Judge to make decision by Thanksgiving whether to halt Sanford, Mid-Dakota Clinic merger

BISMARCK, N.D. - UPDATE 11/3: A district judge will decide before Thanksgiving whether to halt a proposed merger between Sanford Health and Mid-Dakota Clinic.

Representative from both clinics testified during a four day hearing, saying their intent is to stabilize Mid-Dakota Clinic after CHI St. Alexius backed out of a purchase offer.

ORIGINAL STORY 11/2: The hearing continues for the Federal Trade Commission's attempt to block a merger between Sanford Health and Mid Dakota Clinic.

“These two organizations [together] would be able to do more for the patients of this community,” said Sanford Senior Vice President of Sanford Clinic, Matthew Hocks.

On Thursday Sanford Health’s President and CEO, Kelby Krabbenhoft took the stand for over an hour.

Krabbenfort talked about why Mid Dakota Clinic decided to sell.

"[They] tried to determine what would be best for their long lasting organization," said Krabbenfort.

He mentioned that Mid Dakota Clinic was doing "ok financially" now, but they were looking at the long term.

"They came to a conclusion they had to be a part of something more significant to survive," said Krabbenfort.

When asked about monopolies and the importance of competition by the FTC, Krabbenhoft said competition keeps you on your toes.

"The real competition now and in the future will happen with integrated systems," said Krabbenfort.

Others also took the stand, like Sanford doctor and Member of Board of Trustees at Sanford Health, Michael LeBeau.

LeBeau said that if Sanford and Mid Dakota Clinic were to merge there would still be competition. Which is contrary to FTC’s believes, that it would monopolize medical services in the Bismarck-Mandan area.

"We all deserve a good choice," said LeBeau. "Initially, I don't think it would change patient choice at all."

He also noted that competition for him lies between physician to physician.

During testimonies, the courtroom was closed to the public three times. Twice during the Mid Dakota Clinic Chief Executive officer's testimony and once during the Senior Vice President of Sanford Health's testimony.

Sanford Health currently has 45 hospitals and over 200 clinics in Western Minnesota and both Dakotas.

They have 1,500 physicians, and 29 thousand employees.

The suit was filed by the FTC to block the merger between Mid Dakota Clinic and Sanford Health in June. They believed this merger would reduce competition for medical services in the Bismarck-Mandan area. Services like obstetrics and gynecology, adult care, general surgery and pediatrics.

The trial is expected to continue through the end of the week.

The U.S. District Court's decision could put a stop to the merger until a formal FTC hearing in Washington, D.C. on November 28.