Council Approves VRMC, Essentia Health Affiliation

By KBJR News 1

Council Approves VRMC, Essentia Health Affiliation

September 4, 2012 Updated Sep 4, 2012 at 9:46 PM CDT

VIRGINIA, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - An affiliation between the Virginia Regional Medical Center and Essentia Health has passed its final hurdle Tuesday in a 5-2 vote by the Virginia City Council.

Virginia City Councilors and the mayor argued the pros and cons of what that partnership would mean.

Councilors that voted in favor of the affiliation talked about the benefits.

Essentia plans to expand the number of procedures and surgeries that can take place in Virginia.

Councilors in favor of the affiliation say this means VRMC patients wouldn't have to travel an additional hour to Duluth for certain procedures.

Supporters also said that the affiliation with Essentia would make the hospital more sustainable in the long term.

The major concerns against the affiliation were that the hospital would no longer be city-owned.

Some councilors were uncomfortable with the idea of giving up control of the hospital.

Additionally, they mayor, who voted down the affiliation, argued that Essentia has history of not living up to its promises.

"Going into this lease we have absolutely no say or control of what goes on in that facility and no way to mind the store. This will be run solely by Essentia," said Mayor Steve Peterson of Virginia.

"I believe we have no choice but to affiliate with a larger entity at this point in time," said Council Member Charlie Baribou.

Essentia Health Virginia is the working name for the proposed affiliation.

Residents also had a chance to speak ahead of the vote.

Several community members spoke out with concerns they had about the affilation.

The city council had the final say with its vote.

Posted to Web by Jena Pike