SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Dakotas-based Sanford Health has announced an alliance with Montana-based Benefis Health System.

Officials say the alliance will maintain the independence of both health networks while enabling them to collaborate in many areas, including clinical services and programs, research and doctor recruitment.

Both Sanford and Benefis are not-for-profit health care systems. Sanford bills itself as the nation's largest not-for-profit rural health care provider, with locations in 126 communities in nine states. Benefis serves a 15-county area in rural Montana.

The alliance will not impact the governance or financial structure of either organization.

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