Essentia Health community letter — May 2024

June 07, 2024  By: Louie St. George

To our neighbors:

Since 2009, Essentia Health has been the main provider of health care in Fosston and the surrounding area. Because of our deep roots  here, we want to share our thoughts and hear from you about the future of care in this community.

First and foremost, Essentia does not want to leave Fosston. Caring for our community is Essentia’s top priority. We will continue to provide the high-quality health care our patients expect and deserve, even now during the city’s desire to enter into arbitration and take back First Care Medical Services as owned and operated by Essentia Health, which includes the hospital, nursing home and clinics in Fosston, Bagley and Oklee.

We are committed to a thoughtful process that preserves local access to expert health care. In addition to holding regular listening sessions with our employees, it’s important for us to hear concerns and gather feedback from residents. That’s why we will continue to look for ways to engage you and get your thoughts.

Over the coming weeks, we want to hear more from you about the future of care here. We want to answer questions and ensure all voices in the community have an opportunity to be heard. Please consider sharing your questions by emailing us at [email protected].

We understand the public dialogue about this situation has raised questions and concerns, and we are committed to sharing updates with you and ensuring your voice is heard.

We are listening and engaging the community

There was some talk recently that Essentia was surveying residents to more deeply understand their perceptions about health care in this area. To ensure the most objective results possible, we didn’t confirm that we hired a third party to carry out the survey until after the work concluded. This is how this research is usually conducted.

What we learned from you is that 85% of those who were past patients at Essentia Health-Fosston were satisfied with their experience. More than half (53%) were very satisfied. Three-in-four said they were likely to recommend Essentia Health to friends or family. Those impressive numbers represent real people — our friends, family members and neighbors across the region — who needed medical care, and it reflects the quality of care we strive for every day.

We’re proud of our providers, nurses and support staff, and we are grateful that they like being part of our team. According to the survey, almost all (84%) the people who work for Essentia, or have a family member who works here, agree that Essentia is a good employer.

We also found that many in our community (51%) are unsure about supporting the transition of the Fosston hospital to a new health  system or transferring to local control with oversight by the City of Fosston. That’s understandable considering the complexity and uncertainty of the process. Add in the possibility of additional costs to the city or tax increases, and it’s clear that you and your neighbors need and want more information.

This brings us back to our commitment to hear from and communicate with you. Look for more information about a community meeting in the near future where we will share updates that can help you understand our situation, the city’s actions and the complicated process that leads to arbitration in July.

What to expect from Essentia Health-Fosston in the coming weeks

As we enter into arbitration with the city in July, we think it is important that the community and surrounding areas understand the complexity of a potential transition so that you can ask questions and get the answers you deserve. Throughout the process, our focus will continue to be on the safety and well-being of our patients.

We want to assure our patients that your care will not suffer due to the city’s demand to take back the hospital. Our employees are dedicated professionals and passionate about the care they provide every day. We are extremely proud of their commitment, even during this time of uncertainty.

While this dispute with the city is distracting, it won’t keep us from our mission to provide the best possible care for those in Fosston and the surrounding region.


Dr. Mark Thompson, Essentia Health West Market President

Tanner Goodrich, Essentia Health Senior Vice President of Operations

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