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Deer River hospital to join Essentia Health

DEER RIVER - Deer River Healthcare Center will become part of Essentia Health starting next month.

Leaders from both organizations signed an affiliation agreement Tuesday, marking the culmination of months of discussions.

"We're so pleased to join with our colleagues at Deer River Healthcare Center," Dr. Daniel Nikcevich, president of Essentia Health's East Region, said in a news release. "Every step of the way, we have been impressed by the thoughtful dedication of DRHC board members, administrators and community shareholders."

While the integration officially takes effect Sept. 1, Essentia and DRHC have worked together for years.

"This affiliation is a natural extension of our relationship with Essentia," DRHC Administrator Jeff Stampohar said. "Our teamwork in the area of orthopedics and heart care has reduced the distance patients must travel for these services. In coming years, we hope to offer local access to other services, including cancer care, in Deer River."

Stampohar said healthcare reform is making it more challenging for community hospitals to stand alone.

The partnership will help DRHC and its patients will benefit from the resources and support of a four-state, fully-integrated health system, while maintaining the hometown feel of a small healthcare center, the release said.

Deer River is 58 miles east of Bemidji and about 15 miles west of Grand Rapids.

Along with the hospital, DRHC operates a long-term care facility and senior apartments in Deer River and two clinics in Grand Rapids. The hospital will be named Essentia Health-Deer River.

Essentia and DRHC are planning an affiliation celebration for employees on Sept. 4.