Essentia Health and CommonSpirit Health announced Friday the health systems have signed a letter of intent for Essentia to acquire CommonSpirit-owned facilities operating under the CHI brand in North Dakota and Minnesota. According to a release from Essentia and Common Spirit, the facilities could join Essentia by the summer.

The discussions include the following Minnesota CHI Health facilities: LakeWood Health in Baudette, St. Francis Health in Breckenridge, St. Joseph’s Health Park Rapids and St. Gabriel’s Health in Little Falls.

North Dakota facilities include: St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck and the St. Alexius branches in Carrington, Devils Lake, Dickinson, Garrison, Turtle Lake and Williston; plus CHI facilities in Fargo, Lisbon, Valley City and Oakes, CHI Friendship, and the CHI Living Community in Riverview.

“CommonSpirit wants patients in this region to have access to a strong network of rural and tertiary hospitals, primary and specialty care, and telehealth services,” said Cliff Robertson, senior vice president for CommonSpirit’s Midwest division. “Essentia Health is well-positioned to integrate these facilities into a continuum of care, while carrying on the Catholic heritage and mission of these facilities. We look forward to continuing our conversations.”

The acquisition of the North Dakota facilities would significantly increase Essentia's presence in the state, adding nine new cities to the health system's coverage there. Essentia currently services eight North Dakota cities.

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“This is an exciting opportunity to extend our passion for excellence in rural health care to additional communities,” Essentia CEO David Herman said in a news release. “We’re grateful that our shared Benedictine heritage and values form a strong foundation for our ongoing discussions. It would be an honor to carry on the rich tradition of high-quality Catholic health care evident today in these CHI facilities.”

CommonSpirit Health is the largest Catholic health system in the United States, with a presence in 21 states. The system was created in February 2019, when CHI Health and Dignity Health merged to become the second-largest nonprofit hospital chain in the country.

This story was updated at 4:47 p.m. Jan. 8 with comments from Cliff Robertson and David Herman. It was originally posted at 1:22 p.m. Jan. 8.