Essentia pitches $1B plan to add 2,500 ICU beds nationwide

Duluth, Minn.-based Essentia Health is lobbying Congress for a $1 billion plan to add ICU beds at hospitals in 10 regions across the country, according to the Star Tribune

The 14-hospital system is taking the lead on the ICU Readiness Fund proposal, which calls for sending $100 million to hospitals under construction in the 10 regions, including the hospital Essentia is building in Duluth. The plan would add 2,500 ICU-capable beds, and the hospitals receiving the federal funds would serve as regional care centers when capacity is strained. 

"Compared to the economic cost of trillions of dollars that the coronavirus has caused, a little prevention to prepare for the next crisis is warranted," Essentia's leadership said in plans shared with the Star Tribune.

Essentia has reached out to several health systems that are building hospitals and has seen some interest, according to the report. 

"This is about cost efficiency," Jon Pryor, MD, president of Essentia's east division, told the Star Tribune. "It's a relatively inexpensive way to add ICU-capable beds" compared to upgrading existing rooms. 

The proposal has received support from 20 state legislators. 

"This is a big proposal that may sound theoretical, but it is borne out of the experience of the pandemic," Andrew Askew, Essentia's vice president of public policy, told the Star Tribune. "Why should we set up beds in a [hockey arena] when we have a new hospital being put in?"

Read the full Star Tribune article here

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