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700 healthcare workers express concern over Essentia's acquisition of 17 CommonSpirit facilities

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About 700 nurses and healthcare workers have filed a petition expressing concern over Duluth, Minn.-based Essentia Health's plan to acquire 17 facilities from Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

Under a letter of intent announced in January, CommonSpirit-owned facilities operating under the CHI Health brand in North Dakota and Minnesota would join Essentia Health. The deal includes a full-service tertiary hospital in Bismarck, N.D., and 13 critical access hospitals. Additionally, all CHI Health associated clinics and living communities would join Essentia Health. The organizations have yet to reach a definitive agreement. 

According to the Minnesota Nurses Association, healthcare workers at Essentia and CHI Health are worried that the acquisition would result in less access to patient care. The nurses said that Essentia partnered with Mercy Hospital in Moose Lake, Minn., last summer and claim it hurt the quality of care provided by the hospital. 

"Ever since the takeover, we’ve lost numerous staff, causing shortages in how we care for patients," a nurse wrote in a news release about the petition. "We don’t want CHI’s hospitals and clinics to lay off workers, cut the services they offer or close entirely."

In response to the petition, Essentia Health released the following statement to the Duluth News Tribune:

"Essentia recognizes the important role that health care plays in the autonomy and vibrancy of rural communities. This, along with our commitment to providing high-quality care, will help ensure the long-term success of these facilities should an agreement move forward. This would strengthen those communities by benefiting both our patients and staff."

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