A letter to our community — June 2024

June 12, 2024  By: Unknown

Essentia Health-Fosston


To our neighbors in Fosston and surrounding communities,

Every day, Essentia Health-Fosston serves people with many health care needs. As the future of care in Fosston is discussed, we’re engaging the community to ensure all voices are heard, understood and valued.

Essentia would like to stay in Fosston and continue providing high-quality care for the community. We understand the dispute with the City of Fosston raises many questions and concerns. Essentia is working through arbitration, which will occur in early July.

We want to thank those who participated in Essentia’s recent community listening session and survey. It’s clear we all agree high-quality local health care is important.

If you are not familiar with Essentia’s recent community outreach in Fosston, here is how we’ve been engaging and listening:

1. In April, Essentia surveyed the community on key health care topics through a third-party survey company.

2. We’ve held meetings with Essentia employees to listen, answer questions and ensure our collective focus on continued high-quality patient care.

3. In May, we gathered the community for a listening session at Fosston High School on the future of health care in the area.

At the community listening session, we promised to share the results of our survey more broadly and provide information on key topics discussed by those who were able to attend. 

Here are the key findings from the community survey:

  • 85% of past patients at Essentia Health-Fosston were satisfied with their experience.
  • 54.4% of survey takers rated the quality of Essentia’s local health care as excellent or good.
  • 52% are unsure if they would support Essentia Health-Fosston transitioning to a new health system.
  • 49% are concerned with the relocating of labor and delivery services.

At Essentia’s employee meetings, we committed to providing ongoing communication about the future. We’re hearing, understandably, our colleagues are concerned about their jobs and what a potential transition would mean for the patients they care for. Employees have also shared great ideas about how we can better meet challenges together.

During our community listening session at Fosston High School, community members shared their personal experiences in small discussion groups and as a large group. Below we’ve shared the topics most discussed at the meeting.

Topic: Providing high-quality care and services

Community questions: Community members voiced strong interest in ensuring high-quality care delivered locally by well-trained providers, including those who offer specialty care.

Essentia insights:

  • Essentia is one of the largest employers in Fosston with about 265 people. We actively recruit, train and provide a workforce that delivers high-quality care in the community.
  • Essentia supports the growth and development of our rural health care system through our Family Medicine Residency Program, the Essentia OB Fellowship Program and our general surgery partnership with the University of Minnesota.
  • Essentia also invests $300,000 annually to maintain emergency medical services (EMS) and enhance access to emergency care in Fosston and surrounding communities.

Topic: Labor and delivery services, and maternal care

Community questions: Community members want to better understand why Essentia is providing labor and delivery services at Essentia Health St. Mary’s-Detroit Lakes.

Essentia insights:

  • Essentia is committed to high-quality care close to home. Today fewer than half of rural counties in the U.S. have labor and delivery due to a national labor shortage of family practice doctors trained and practicing in the specialty of maternal labor and delivery. Family medicine doctors choosing to deliver babies are required to have additional training.
  • In Fosston, Essentia’s shared care approach includes prenatal obstetric care for patients locally while simultaneously building a relationship with a delivery site clinician at key points in the pregnancy. Essentia Health-Fosston then provides postpartum obstetric care locally. Essentia Health-Fosston’s Emergency Medicine Department is open and attends to all patients who need care.
  • Essentia St. Mary’s-Detroit Lakes has historically staffed for 10-times the volume of births in Fosston. The higher volume of births allows the hospital to hire, retain and sustain the care teams required for safe delivery programs.
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines for a safe delivery program requires a team of providers, including physicians, nurses, support staff with emergency response training, and 24/7 availability for emergency C-sections.
  • Essentia’s goal is always to provide safe, high-quality care for our patients. We believe shared care with Essentia St. Mary’s-Detroit Lakes ensures that goal is met.

Topic: The importance of specialty services

Community questions: Many people asked about the future of specialty care if there is a provider transition.

Essentia insights:

  • Essentia provides more than 20 specialties in Fosston, including cardiology and oncology.
  • If a transition occurs, the City and a new provider would determine what specialty care would be offered through First Care Medical Services.

As we move forward together, our patients continue to be our highest priority. More insights on Essentia’s community listening work are available at EssentiaHealth.org/Fosston. Share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected].


Dr. Mark Thompson, Essentia Health West Market President

Tanner Goodrich, Essentia Health Senior Vice President of Operations

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