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Virginia hospital partners with Essentia

VIRGINIA, Minn. — On a 5-2 vote, the Virginia City Council on Tuesday approved an affiliation deal with Duluth’s Essentia Health, sacrificing local control of the city-owned Virginia Regional Medical Center in return for a multimillion-dollar cash infusion.

Approval of the deal, which had been explored for two years, required a two-thirds majority, meaning one more “no” vote would have sunk the proposal. Mayor Steve Peterson, who voted against affiliation along with Councilor Nevada Littlewolf, tried to rally other councilors to his side, citing what he called past broken promises by Essentia in relation to the clinic it runs adjacent to the hospital.

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