Construction Work on Vision Northland Nearing Completion

DULUTH, Minn. – It’s been nearly three years since Essentia Health broke ground on Vision Northland.  Construction work is ongoing on the 19-story structure, but the end is in sight.

“The project is on time and on budget,” says Dr. David Herman, CEO of Essentia Health, “and that took a lot of extra work for everyone involved within this project to make that happen.”

Since construction began on the 942-thousand square foot building, work on Vision Northland has seen plenty of hurdles to clear.

“Under normal circumstances these are challenging projects to build,” says Jeff Dzurik, Vice President and Project Executive for McGough Construction.  “This particular project spans two blocks, has 100 feet of grade change from one end to the other.  We had a lot of rock blasting to do adjacent to existing patient care spaces.”

Hundreds of workers have put in over 2-million hours on site so far, all just feet away from where people are getting medical care.

“Essentia has a health care campus that they have to operate,” says Dzurik, “and we have to keep patients and staff coming in and out in a safe way to get the great care that they get here.”

The project has kept to the original blueprints for most parts, such as lessening the space needed to transfer patients for care and making their 26 operating rooms large enough to use robotics.  There have been some modifications such as adding more ICUs.

“As the care models changed and we learned from them throughout the pandemic we changed the design of the building to meet those changes,” says Herman.

When designing how work spaces and patients rooms would look, Herman says Essentia talked to their staff to guide them on how they should be designed.  “The rooms are designed for the care providers, the patients, and the families to be in the rooms at the same time.  You saw some of the pass-thru that allow materials to be placed in the room, whether it’s towels or medications, without bothering the patient and interrupting their sleep and their recuperations.”

The number of patients Vision Northland can have will be about the same as in St. Mary’s Medical Center.  One noted change is that all but two patient rooms will have single beds, and they will be located along the outside walls of each level.

“We’ve done everything we can to bring the outside into the building here,” says Herman.  We know that people come to the hospital because they’re sick, but we know that the involvement of the family, of being able to see the outdoors, having a comfortable place in which to stay, makes a huge difference for their recovery and recuperation.”

Essentia is expected to take ownership of the building in February of next year.  They will spend about four to five months training staff in the new space before it begins admitting patients.

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