The Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, is now under new ownership.
The Fairview System officially took over Grand Itasca on Jan. 1. Fairview is affiliated with the University of Minnesota Health system in Minneapolis. Fairview also operates the Range Regional Medical Center in Hibbing, the Iron Range’s largest hospital.
According to press reports and anecdotes I’ve heard from Grand Itasca employees, not much has changed at Grand Itasca. Naturally, it’s possible, perhaps likely that some new efficiency measures or reorganization might happen in the future. But for now there are no plans for layoffs or significant changes in service, according to a Grand Itasca press release.
One by one, Northern Minnesota medical institutions seek financial security in consolidation. The Virginia Regional Medical Center joined the Essentia system two years ago, ending city management of the hospital.
Such arrangements allow rural clinics and hospitals better access to recruiting resources for doctors and medical staff. It can also create better systems for handling the byzantine health insurance system, which is only going to become more confusing in coming years. Rising costs and uncompensated care continue to dog hospitals, especially in rural and relatively low-income areas like Northern Minnesota. For some local clinics, independence means risking closure.
But with consolidation comes less local control and, in the long run, the potential for job losses and changes in service. Hook up with a good company and things work out fine. Hook up with a bad one and you risk losing patients to other systems.