Minnesota Attorney General’s office hears public opinion ahead of Duluth hospital system mergers

Published: Oct. 25, 2023 at 10:53 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) -- The public had the chance to share their thoughts with the Minnesota Attorney General’s office on two hospital mergers that would impact patients in the region.

Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Wednesday that his office is reviewing the proposed mergers between healthcare systems Essentia Health and Marshfield Clinic Health System and between healthcare systems St. Luke’s Duluth and Aspirus Health.

The review, which has to be completed before the merger is finalized, involves gauging whether the public supports the move, or not.

In order for the Attorney General’s office to get the vital information they need for the finalization process; they invited the community to share their opinions on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus.

Some of the voices that spoke against the merger between Essentia Health and Marshfield were health care employees in the Twin Ports.

“How big do we as a community of patients, communities, and workers want these systems to be. What happens if our only option for care fails?” asked an RN at Essentia Health.

“Our members are already stretched thin in many areas, consistently asked to do more with less. It seems entirely possible this trend would continue as Essentia and Marshfield bridge any gaps between their operations,” said Mike Woods, a spokesperson with UWS Local 9460 Union.

However, others in the community took turns sharing their support of the Essentia-Marshfield merger, including educational leaders who say the expansion would allow them to give their health care students more opportunities to training.

“Our waiting list for these programs are extensive,” said Dr. Barbara McDonald, the President of the College of St. Scholastica. “We would love to commit more students to meet health care demands in our communities.”

As for city and county leaders, many say they will support both of the mergers as long as the Attorney’s Office is confident the public will be given the same access to health care as they are now.

“These two systems are vital employers and community partners,” said Annie Harla, the St. Louis County Commissioner in District One. “Health care options in our region is important so that our communities can be best served by the systems that fit their needs.”

Ellison’s office will add the information the public provides to the review of the proposed mergers.

“We want to hear concerns people have, but we are asking questions about all the issues we see as well,” said James Canaday, the Minnesota Deputy Attorney General. “When this is over, we will let people know what we find.”

In addition, the public’s input will also help determine opportunities for public policy or regulatory improvements.

If you were unable to make it to the community meeting and want to voice your opinion, a Community Input Form provides you another way to share that information.

Click here to download the Northern News Now app or our Northern News Now First Alert weather app.