Devils Lake City Commission Votes to Sign Memorandum of Understanding for Healthcare Collaboration – Grand Forks Herald

DEVILS LAKE – The Devils Lake City Commission voted to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate with Altru Health System, Essentia Health and the Spirit Lake Nation on efforts that could one day result in a new medical campus in Devils Lake.

Last week, Altru announced that the four entities are working toward a collaboration agreement in hopes of bringing a new medical campus to the city, where healthcare has been an issue for the past year and a half. On Wednesday, October 19, Altru, Essentia, the City of Devils Lake and Spirit Lake Nation plan to officially announce the proposed partnership at an event at Lake Region State College.

At a regular commission on Monday, October 17, the commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the letter and the city’s involvement in the partnership, after hearing statements from Bill Heegaard, President of Essentia West Market, Todd Forkel, CEO Devils Lake President Mariann Doeling and hospital workers heard from Altru, CHI St. Alexius Health.

Essentia owns land near Walmart in Devils Lake. Heegaard told the commission that Essentia was excited about the prospect of providing quality, integrated care to Devils Lake.

“That won’t be all — we probably won’t be doing neurosurgery up here, but we are able to provide quality care to citizens and the people who need it in this region,” he said.

Forkel said he hasn’t seen a partnership quite like the one forged during his 30-year career in healthcare — one that spans four distinctly separate entities.

“(We look forward to) this horizon of what can be achieved,” he said.

Altru currently operates a clinic in Devils Lake.

The community hospital – CHI St. Alexius – is operated by another company. The current hospital is not included in the collaboration.

Doeling and other staff at CHI St. Alexius expressed disapproval of the plan for the four units to work together and the potential new medical campus that could result from the effort.

Doeling outlined some of the challenges faced by the current hospital’s emergency department, such as the number of trauma patients, patients with behavioral disorders, and addiction patients served by the emergency departments and staff. She also questioned the logistics of a collaborative model to address these concerns.

“I would be curious to see what this collaboration will look like, because that can also put a huge strain on our healthcare system,” she said.

The memorandum of understanding, which will be signed on Wednesday, is an agreement for the four companies to work exclusively with each other, City Manager Spencer Halvorson said during Monday night’s meeting. Further work is being carried out to draw up a development agreement and to determine the financial terms of cooperation.

In an interview with the Grand Forks Herald last week, Halvorson said the MOU “publicly acknowledges that we will all seek to work together and work together to build a medical campus in Devils Lake.”

“It’s something that’s been long in the making,” Halvorson said. “It’s something we’re really excited about.”

However, the proposal had to be approved by the commission before the city could be involved in the collaboration. Monday’s 4-1 decision – Commissioner Shane Hamre voted against – means the plan can go ahead.

Wednesday’s event will be held at the Chautauqua Gallery at Lake Region State College and will begin at 10:30 am. Expected are Forkel, Heegaard, Altru President Josh Deere, Essentia CEO David Herman, Spirit Lake Tribal Chairman Doug Yankton and Devils Lake Mayor Jim Moe.

About Stephanie McGehee

Check Also

College Roundup: Local Athletes Competing At College Level | Sports

• Davenport University Junior Guard Makenna Bryant (Cadillac HS) had two rebounds and two assists …