ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Essentia's surgery center at Miller Hill Mall on track to open this summer

The Essentia Health Surgery Center-Miller Hill will have 41,000 square feet to conduct outpatient surgeries.

At the future Miller Hill Surgery Center.
Esther Lindeman, director of the Essentia Health Surgery Center-Miller Hill, gives a tour of Essentia’s new surgery center in the former Sears store space Monday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
We are part of The Trust Project.

DULUTH — Essentia Health's 41,000-square-foot outpatient surgery center in the Miller Hill Mall is nearing the end stages of its construction. The Essentia Health Surgery Center-Miller Hill is anticipated to open in July.

The surgery center will open with four 600-square-foot operating rooms, with the capacity for up to 12 operating rooms to be used in the future. The facility will also have 20 private rooms for patients to use before their operations, and four 23-hour rooms for patients who need to stay a while longer after their surgery.

At the future Miller Hill Surgery Center.
A man works in a hallway in the Miller Hill Surgery Center on Monday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

According to Esther Lindeman, director of the surgery center, the facility will perform operations that don't require a long stay in a hospital, and instead allow for at-home recovery. More involved surgeries, including emergency surgeries, will be done at Essentia's downtown medical campus.

“Essentia will have the new hospital, but they also will have this (surgery center) for growing needs," Lindeman said. "The community is growing, and Essentia is expanding their surgical service. We’re adding additional surgeons, so there was really a need for this type of setting."

She said having the large number of pre-operation rooms will help the facility's staff focus on patients, and not turning over rooms for the next person coming in.

ADVERTISEMENT

Orthopedic surgeon Jefferson Davis, chair of the division of surgical operations, said the outpatient procedures done at the Miller Hill center will include orthopedic and eye surgeries, some neurological surgeries and pediatric surgery. In the future, Essentia will likely add joint-replacement surgeries as the facility expands.

At the future Miller Hill Surgery Center.
Doctors Ken Farrell, left, and Jefferson Davis wait for a news conference to begin in a future operating room as work continues in the hallway behind them.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

“As a surgeon, it’s always exciting to come into a place like this," Davis said. "We’re used to utilizing a facility that was planned decades ago and has limitations. Thirty years ago, when they made the ORs, they didn’t plan on the state-of-the-art equipment that we have, so it’s a challenge to get that stuff put into rooms that really weren’t made for that.”

The operating rooms will have overhead boom systems that suspend from the ceiling, leaving the floor clear for staff to move around. Ken Farrell, anesthesiologist and division chair for anesthesia, said medical staff will be able to feel a big difference, since the room is made for the large equipment and isn't just retrofitted to make things work.

"While we’re providing state-of-the-art medical care, now we’ll have two state-of-the-art facilities to go with that medical care,” Farrell said.

At the future Miller Hill Surgery Center.
The Essentia Health Surgery Center will be located in the former Sears store space and an adjacent expansion.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Lindeman said the location of the surgery center at the mall, located partially in the former Sears, is convenient for patients and their accompanying family members or friends to get to, plus it provides them with something to do while the patient is in surgery. The person accompanying the patient will receive updates via text message so they will know when it is time to pick them up.

Essentia ASC Interior 2.jpg
A rendering shows the anticipated interior of the Essentia Health Surgery Center-Miller Hill.
Contributed / Essentia Health

The Essentia Health Surgery Center-Miller Hill will have a large glass lobby, laboratory and retail pharmacy. Construction at the facility began last spring, with renovations to the parking lot and 32,000 square feet of new construction.

At the future Miller Hill Surgery Center.
Construction team members met in a quiet area of the surgery center.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

The rest of the Sears building, which Essentia purchased in 2020, has not yet been designated a permanent use. Essentia conducted COVID-19 testing there in 2020 and 2021. The Essentia Health-Miller Hill Health Plaza at 1600 Miller Trunk Highway also houses the Center for Personal Fitness, Therapy and Performance Center and Polinksy Medical Rehabilitation Center in the former Younkers space.

Essentia ASC Exterior 2.jpg
An artist's rendering shows the design of the exterior of Essentia Health Surgery Center-Miller Hill.
Contributed / Essentia Health
At the future Miller Hill Surgery Center.
Part of the future ssentia Health Surgery Center-Miller Hill being used for storage and meetings.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Laura Butterbrodt covers health for the Duluth News Tribune. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from South Dakota State University and has been working as a reporter in Minnesota and South Dakota since 2014.
What to read next
Sound and electrical stimulation may offer hope for people suffering from chronic pain and other conditions. Researchers are exploring the combination with the goal of developing treatments that are safer and more accessible than opioid medication. Viv Williams has details of a new study in this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion."
Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association will decide whether to strike following what they see as a lack of action from hospital executives during contract negotiations.
When those first baby teeth appear, it's time to start teaching little ones about good dental health. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams consults a pediatric dentist about when kids should have their first dental appointment and she shares tips on brushing.
Long road trips provide ample time for both reflection and rumination — the good and the bad of hours and hours spent behind the wheel. In this Health Fusion column, Viv Williams shares stories of a recent drive to Colorado and how a pit stop at a botanical garden's butterfly house made a faulty air conditioner tolerable and brought meaning to the buzz word "mindfulness."