On Jan. 8, Essentia Health released the news of the letter of intent on their website. The letter of intent is for CommonSpirit-owned Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) brand facilities in North Dakota and Minnesota to join Essentia Health. This would include CHI St. Alexius Dickinson as one of seven branches under the CHI St. Alexius umbrella. Facilities in North Dakota also include facilities in Lisbon, Valley City and Oakes, Fargo and the CHI Friendship Center.

Four CHI facilities in Baudette, Breckenridge, Park Rapids and Little Falls, MN. are also being included in the proposed move.

CommonSpirit is a non-profit formed in 2019 when Catholic Health Initiatives combined with Dignity Health and their operations extend across 21 different states. CommonSpirit is headquartered in Chicago and operates 139 hospitals and more than 1,000 care sites.

“CommonSpirit wants patients in this region to have access to a strong network of rural and tertiary hospitals, primary and specialty care, and telehealth services,” said Cliff Robertson, MD, senior vice president for CommonSpirit’s Midwest division. “Essentia Health is well-positioned to integrate these facilities into a continuum of care, while carrying on the Catholic heritage and mission of these facilities. We look forward to continuing our conversations.

Essentia Health is an integrated health system, with interprofessional collaboration of healthcare providers that services patients throughout the midwest. Essentia Health does include many Catholic facilities, and is “guided by the values of quality, hospitality, respect, joy, justice, stewardship and teamwork.”

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“This is an exciting opportunity to extend our passion for excellence in rural health care to additional communities,” says Essentia CEO David C. Herman, MD. “We’re grateful that our shared Benedictine heritage and values form a strong foundation for our ongoing discussions. It would be an honor to carry on the rich tradition of high-quality Catholic health care evident today in these CHI facilities.”

This opportunity, if concluded with purchase, would more than double Essentia’s footprint which would include a greatly increased presence in North Dakota. Currently the company operates eight facilities within the state.

According to reports in Forum Communications Company’s Duluth News Tribune, the deal could be finalized as early as this summer, and no estimates are being given on the price tag for such a significant expansion and purchase.

Both CHI St. Alexius Dickinson and Essentia have declined to provide further comments on the matter.