St. Lukes + Essentia Battle To Attract University Of Minnesota Medical School In Duluth
The Twin Ports in home to two major medical facilities. And while partnership in healthcare is common, both are battling against each other - hoping to be the future home of a University of Minnesota medical school.
It's really a tale of two redevelopments, two different campuses, and two different visions for the future.
At St. Luke's, they're currently in the process of redeveloping their main campus located in Duluth's Hillside neighborhood. One of the visible signs of those improvements involves parking.
As the medical facility makes plans to replace the existing parking ramp structure, they've sought out alternative solutions for temporary parking. That solution came somewhat close to their camus - at 830 E First Street - a lot that is currently vacant, but used to be the United Baptist Christian Church.
In order to use that vacant site, St. Luke's needed to get approval by the City of Duluth Planning Commission. That approval was granted, and the medical facility will work to create a temporary parking lot there while crews work to revamp the existing parking ramp.
However, once that project is over, St. Luke's has "ambitious plans" for the temporary lot. Those plans could change the future direction of health care in the area.
According to details shared in an article in the Duluth News Tribune [paywall], St. Luke's hopes to attract a medical school that the University of Minnesota is planning for the Twin Ports. The university announced their intention to build a medical school in Duluth back in January of 2022; in fact, they requested "$12 million in state funding to complete pre-design work.....[for the] facility in Duluth that could train medical professionals and help meet the growing needs of regional health care providers."
That announcement has spurred a professional duel between the two primary health facilities in the Twin Ports: Essentia Health and St. Luke's. Both are currently "making major investments in their respective medical campuses" and both would benefit from having a new U of M medical school located on or near their campus.
Similar to St. Luke's, Essentia Health has their own plans and they also hope that the future medical school in Duluth will be located on their campus.
Essentia has spent the last two years building a new hospital facility. Once it's complete and they move operations, they'll demolish the existing St. Mary's Medical Center. According to Anthony Matt - Media Relations Specialist for the facility:
"Our hope, as far as the medical school is concerned, would be to entire them to bring that to the site where Essentia-St. Mary's currently is."
Whoever ends up having the new U of M medical school built near them, the ground won't be broken for a few years yet. That article in the News Tribune offers that "even under the most optimistic of timelines, the new U of M academic health center in Duluth would be constructed no sooner than 2025".