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Essentia Health, CommonSpirit Health Sign Letter of Intent

Analysis  |  By Melanie Blackman  
   January 08, 2021

CommonSpirit-owned Catholic Health Initiatives facilities in North Dakota and Minnesota are being negotiated to join Essentia Health.

Essentia Health and CommonSpirit Health signed a letter of intent for a number of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) facilities to join Essentia, the organizations announced Friday.

Negotiations are underway for CommonSpirit-owned CHI facilities in North Dakota and Minnesota to transfer ownership and join Essentia. The facilities include medical centers, critical access hospitals, CHI Health at Home agencies, associated clinics, and living facilities.

After the due-diligence process, the organizations anticipate that the CHI facilities could join Essentia by the summer.

This announcement comes only a few days after CHI Franciscan, a subsidiary of CommonSpirit, and Virginia Mason finalized a merger agreement.

Leaders from Essentia and CommonSpirit stated that this move aims to increase access to rural healthcare.

"This is an exciting opportunity to extend our passion for excellence in rural health care to additional communities," David C. Herman, MD, CEO of Essentia, said in a statement. "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."

"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," Cliff Robertson, MD, senior vice president for CommonSpirit’s Midwest division, said in a statement. "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."

CommonSpirit formed in February 2019 when Catholic health systems CHI and Dignity Health merged, creating the largest Catholic health system in the country. Headquartered in Chicago, the health system serves patients in 21 states.

Essentia, which is headquartered in Duluth, Minnesota, serves patients in facilities across the Gopher State, Wisconsin, and North Dakota.

Related: CHI Franciscan, Virginia Mason Announce Final Merger Agreement

Related: CommonSpirit, Morehouse Partnership Trains Black Doctors

Related: Nurses picket for new contract at Essentia Health-Virginia

Melanie Blackman is the strategy editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

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