University of Minnesota Searches for New Duluth School of Medicine – Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH – The University of Minnesota is still awaiting a $ 12 million wink from the Minnesota Legislature to continue its plans to build a new downtown medical school, but it sent an early team Friday to look for potential sites for the facility.

“We are trying to carry out the early planning,” said Myron Perens, vice president of finance and operations of the university system. “First, we need to decide what goes into the building – all the programming needs. The second thing we need to understand is where to put it.”

And Frances said it remained an open question, as he and his team of facility experts toured one potential site on Block 600 of East Fourth Street on Friday morning. He did not say how many sites are in contention, but he admitted that both St. Luke’s and Essentia Health offered options, including the land now given by St. Mary’s Medical Center, which is slated for demolition shortly after Essentia completes work on a 900 million-strong alternative hospital dollar.

Myron Parnes and his team of facilities experts toured one potential site with people from Duluth town on Block 600 of East Fourth Street on the morning of Friday, April 8, 2022.

Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Pernes also did not speculate on the cost of the project, acknowledging only that it would be quite significant – orders of magnitude larger than the $ 12 million the university asked the state of Minnesota, plus the $ 6 million the school expects to draw from its own fund to fund vital design work.

M’s U does not think small. Parnes said the medical school would probably need at least as large a site as the 1.2-acre lot he visited that morning.

“We are excited that the university wants to invest here and be a part of our Hillside neighborhood,” said Dolot Mayor Emily Larson.

If lawmakers stand behind the project, as France remains optimistic they will, a new UMD medical school could start operating as early as 2025 or more, probably in 2026, given the scale of the project, he said.

“This project is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Perens said. “We’ve seen the gaps that exist in our healthcare system, and this is an opportunity to address those directly, here.”

Larson referred to the project as “transformative”.

Parnes said the proposal to the medical school is advanced in what appears to be a coincidence.

Dolot Mayor Emily Larsson, left, smiles as she listens to Meron Perens, vice president of finance and operations of the university system, talks about potential sites

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, left, listens to Meron Parnes, vice president of finance and operations at the University of Minnesota system, talking about potential sites for a new medical school in downtown Duluth on Friday.

Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“Honestly, when we saw that the country has $ 9 billion in funds available, we thought: Well, this is the right time to make this once-in-a-lifetime leap and really accelerate the project,” he said.

Larson said she began discussing the University of Minnesota’s prospects for expanding its medical presence in Dolot while the city approached the Minnesota Legislature, seeking state association funds to help fuel the city’s medical district growth. In 2019, Duluth eventually received $ 98 million in state-funded public infrastructure to support the expansion of St. Louis. Luke’s and Essentia at a time when the two major health care providers in the city have introduced plans to invest more than $ 1 billion, together.

“At the time, I was looking at what else was possible,” Larson recalled, explaining that it only made sense to leverage additional resources that could help build Duluth into an even stronger medical care center.

Frances said the opportunity to partner with Duluth proved compelling.

“Part of our land-giving mission is to provide services to the entire state. And we really feel like this is an opportunity to fulfill our mission of providing high-quality health services to all of Minnesota,” he said. “We want people to come to Duluth and get their health services. They don’t have to go to twin cities or other places.”

But in addition to investing in new facilities, Duluth will need more healthcare professionals to fulfill its growing regional role as a care provider, and a new medical school can help provide that pipeline.

“If we can provide the right infrastructure and support, we think people will come to Duluth. And we do think it’s really an attractive place to practice medicine, to be a nurse or a medical doctor,” Parnes said.

“To me, it’s so exciting, because it’s the development of cornerstones we’re talking about. It’s not short-term. It’s diverse. It’s generational. It meets a need, but it’s also very visionary,” Larson said. “We’re really grateful, and our area deserves it.”

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