U of M Medical School Partner Essentia Health Unveils New St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth

Essentia Health is an important partner of the U of M Medical School’s rural health education initiatives.

On July 21, 2023, Essentia Health held the ribbon cutting of its new St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, MN. The original St. Mary’s Hospital was founded by the Duluth Benedictine sisters and opened in 1888, the same year that the University of Minnesota Medical School opened.

Construction of the new medical center took nearly four years, beginning in September 2019. Speakers celebrating the state-of-the-art medical facility included Essentia Health CEO Dr. David Herman; Minnesota Governor Tim Walz; U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar; Duluth Mayor Emily Larson; and several others. Diocese of Duluth Bishop Daniel J. Felton closed the ceremony with a blessing.

The histories of St. Mary’s and the U of M Medical School crossed paths many times over their 135 years, especially after the Medical School’s Duluth campus was founded in 1972 to serve the needs of rural Minnesota and Native American communities.

Currently, the U of M Medical School, Duluth campus has many courses that work directly with Essentia Health. “We’re excited to continue and build on bed-side learning and patient centered care exposure for our medical Students.” says Sandy Stover, MD, assistant professor for the U of M Medical School, Duluth Campus.

St Mary's Medical Center

“Students have enjoyed the connections they’ve made with the Essentia community,” says Joann Scozzari, Duluth Regional Clinical Coordinator in the U of M Medical School’s Office of Undergraduate Medical Education. “They’ve felt appreciated and enjoyed their hands-on experiences working with the patient population.”

Scozzari notes that the common thread she sees in student feedback is a deep appreciation for the welcoming and educational culture of Essentia Health.

As part of the ribbon cutting event, Essentia employees lead tours through the hospital, specifically featuring the critical care unit, birthplace center, outpatient surgery waiting area and various other expansive amenities. All but two of the 344 rooms in the new St. Mary’s Medical Center are private rooms, designed to support patients in their healing.

St. Mary’s Medical Center is rated by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid as a five-star hospital, and is the Duluth area’s only Level I Trauma Center.

Essentia’s new St. Mary’s Medical Center is an asset to the entire Duluth area, from patients and community members to health care professionals and students.

“This new medical center will support our Medical School’s student recruitment efforts as well as provide a potential pipeline for future practicing physicians within Essentia,” remarks Kevin Diebel, Interim Regional Dean for the Medical School, Duluth Campus.

Looking to the future, the U of M Medical School is excited to deepen its partnership with Essentia Health, working together to expand the quality of care in rural Minnesota by providing educational opportunities to medical students.