Nurses celebrate a win as CHI/Essentia merger falls through

Late last year, nurses in North Dakota and northern Minnesota learned of a plan from Essentia Health to pursue acquisition talks with CHI/Common Spirit Health Care. The plan was for Essentia Health to acquire 14 facilities and take over management and services they provide to mainly rural communities across northern Minnesota and North Dakota.

From the start, MNA members were concerned about the implications this deal would have on patient care in many critical access facilities. Nurses were familiar with the past dealings of Essentia in Moose Lake, taking over the small community hospital and immediately shuttering services and sending patients to the system hub in Duluth.

MNA members from Minnesota and North Dakota came together to draft and send Essentia Management questions about the proposed plan and ask for a commitment to honor existing union contracts and organized unions. This channel of communication did not gain any response, so nurses organized a petition to elevate their voices.

After gaining more than 800 signatures MNA members at all 11 facilities affected by this proposal delivered the petition to their facility management and held a joint press conference. Additionally, meetings were held with both the State Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission to express concerns about the impact the consolidation would have on community healthcare as well as healthcare workers and union contracts.

After organizing and escalating our concerns, MNA members learned in late May that the proposed deal had fallen through. From this organizing work our members have built strong working coalitions across facilities and even across multiple states that will help us improve community healthcare delivery and strength our contracts in upcoming negotiating cycles.