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Essentia Health to open new $900 million St. Mary's Medical Center

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | July 25, 2023
Business Affairs
Essentia Health will transfer patients over to the new $900 million St. Mary's Medical Center facility beginning on July 30.
On July 20, Essentia Health, in Duluth, Minnesota, kicked off the grand opening of its new $900 million hospital, the city’s largest private investment to date, that will serve as the replacement for the original St. Mary’s Medical Center facility.

Dubbed the Vision Northland project, the 18-story, 942,000-square-foot glass tower has 344 rooms, 16 operating rooms, and 13 birth suites, and takes up two city blocks on Duluth’s hillside. Of the rooms, 342 are private, and the other two are designed to accommodate more than one patient in cases of twins or multiple births. Each has a panoramic view of Lake Superior and the Duluth hillside, according to MPR News.

St. Mary’s Medical Center has provided care for over 135 years, with parts of the original building more than a century old. The design concept for the new facility was formed over two years, and construction took three and a half years. For patient room designs, 26 different staff user groups from Essentia provided input.

“They put everything where they wanted it to go, [what] they thought would be efficient workflows, and we established the layout from there,” Essentia media relations specialist Tony Matt told MPR News.

The new building will house:

  • A 40-bed ED featuring CT, X-ray, and ultrasound machines for neurological, traumatic, and orthopedic emergencies; higher ceilings; and calming elements

  • 24 robots that Essentia staff can program from any computer to deliver food, dump the trash, and perform other tedious tasks, with charging stations to power them

  • Pass-through cabinets for stocking rooms from hallways to avoid disturbing patients

  • Valves hidden behind paintings for providing medical gasses to women in labor

  • Upsized oxygen infrastructure for use on upper floors

  • 100,000 square feet of shelved space on five floors that can be adapted as patient needs change

  • A helipad with a high-speed elevator that goes directly to the ED

  • A 28-elevator system that groups patients going to the same floor into one car, increasing efficiency in moving people and equipment by 25%

It also will have the capacity to add two more stories to one side of it. “This is a 50-plus year building, and you have to make sure you've built in that flexibility to be able to change with medicine as you move forward,” said facilities director Dan Cebelinski.

The hospital’s ED Level I adult trauma center and Level II pediatric trauma center certifications will transfer over.

An open house was held on July 21. The hospital is expected to begin moving patients in on July 30.

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