Sometimes a 'work in progress' truly is.  Essentia Health has announced modified plans for their new Vision Northland Project; when the new St. Mary's Medical Center opens by the end of 2023, it will come with additional ICU capacity - something that wasn't originally in the plans when they were designed.

The move comes primarily as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the details shared in an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall], the health care facility wants to be ready "at a time when the pandemic has stretched the Northland's care capacity".  As as result, they have decided to include plans for an entire floor worth of units that could be ICU-ready if needed.

As work has progressed on the Vision Northland Project, the 17th floor had not been "dedicated to a specific use".  Now it will house hospital rooms that are "ICU-ready".  Dr. Robert Erickson, Essentia's Physicial Lead for the Vision Northland Project explains:

"We anticipate the health care needs of Northlanders to increase in the future, and we want to be ready for that demand.  With that in mind, we decided it was better to get the 17th floor fitted now and be prepared to handle an increase in patients when the time comes."

The newly-announced plans for the 17th floor will add 32 additional rooms to the overall design.  That increase will bring "the total number of single patients rooms in the hospital to 342". Essentia Health's Board of Directors voted to approve the addition and the design change.

Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth, MN
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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Even though the ICU-ready rooms on the 17th floor weren't part of the original designs, the changes shouldn't directly impact the overall timeline.  The "six to eight week" buildout.  Essentia Health is still looking at completing the construction during the first quarter of 2023.  The Board of Directors hope that the new St. Mary's Medical Center will be open for patient care by the third quarter of 2023.

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