Leaders from Mercy Hospital in Moose Lake and Essentia Health announced plans for a formal partnership between the two organizations. The decision is based on a shared commitment to enhance health care services in Moose Lake and the surrounding communities, the parties said in a Tuesday news release.

Mercy’s Board of Directors voted on the affiliation at its regular meeting Monday night. Earlier this fall, the hospital issued a request for proposal to several health care providers, seeking a formal partnership to bring greater stability and resources to the community. Board members chose Essentia, citing its strongly aligned mission and values and Essentia’s plan to grow primary- and specialty-care services in Moose Lake, along with hospital and emergency care.

“A partnership with Essentia is a great fit for our hospital and the communities we serve,” says Mercy CEO Mike Youso. “Essentia is committing to provide more services, close to home for our patients, and to explore new opportunities like telehealth.” When a higher level of specialty care is needed, patients will benefit from coordinated care and a single electronic health record that travels with the patient anywhere they receive care within Essentia. “This is especially convenient for the number of Moose Lake-area residents already receiving care at Essentia,” Youso says.

Youso also pointed out that a partnership with Essentia would mean an end to the tax levy currently supporting the hospital.

We believe this affiliation is a win for Mercy, helping the hospital prosper at a time of increasing challenges in health care, and a win for Essentia, allowing us to meet our mission of making a healthy difference in people’s lives,” said Dr. Jon Pryor, president of Essentia’s operations in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. “Most importantly, it’s a win for the patients and communities we are privileged to serve, allowing our organizations to work together to provide high-quality health care close to home.”

Following Monday’s vote, the affiliation process moved into a due-diligence phase, where both organizations analyze the future partnership in greater detail. That portion of the process is expected to take six to nine months.

“After more than 20 years as an integrated health system, we recognize the value of coordinated, seamless care and strong networks of clinics and hospitals,” said Essentia CEO Dr. David Herman. “We look forward to realizing the promise this partnership holds for our communities.”