VRMC to Become Essentia Health-Virginia
Posted at: 09/04/2012 10:28 PM
| Updated at: 09/04/2012 11:08 PM
By: Paige Calhoun
In a 5-2 vote, the Virginia City Council approved an affiliation with Essentia Health Tuesday night. That means the Virginia Regional Medical Center will no longer be city-owned, and will become Essentia Health-Virginia.
The decision was made at a special meeting, but before the vote, both council and community members weighed in on what they felt the affiliation would mean. Many were concerned that Essentia would not hold up their end of the bargain. Others were worried hospital employees would lose their jobs, and some were not fond of handing over daily operations, "I do tend to be a local person that wants that local ability to make changes within our health care system if that's something we want to do," City Councilor Nevada Littlewolf said.
However, many did agree the move was necessary for financial stability. Mayor Steve Peterson had a final word of caution for Essentia prior to the vote, "Essentia, I might not be here, but if you don't take care of our hospital, I'm coming after you. You're going to rue the day you met me. I might not be your mayor, but by God, I'll be your worst nightmare. I mean that. And that's not a threat, I mean I'm going to be watching this. That place is near and dear to me and everyone of those employees is near and dear to me and I want it done right."
Strong words by the mayor, but the council did approve the plan. It includes a 20-year lease and a transition plan. Essentia also pledged to make $7 million worth of capital improvements. The hospital's 500 plus employees will keep their positions and their seniority, but they will become Essentia employees. Essentia said they also plan to increase the payroll by $7 million in 5 years. They estimate that will add about 50 jobs.