FILE - Hospital emergency room

(The Center Square) – Fairview Health Services announced changes Monday after experiencing widespread financial losses in 2020, partly from COVID-19.

Fairview will consolidate 14 clinics in Minnesota and two in Wisconsin into its remaining clinic and primary care locations by the end of 2020.

The following primary care clinic locations are closing effective Dec. 4.

  • Columbia Heights
  • Downtown St. Paul
  • Farmington
  • Grand Avenue
  • Hiawatha
  • Hugo 
  • Integrated Primary Care
  • Lino Lakes
  • Milaca
  • Pine City
  • Roseville
  • Savage
  • Xerxes (Bloomington Lake, Xerxes)
  • Zimmerman
  • Ellsworth (WI)
  • Spring Valley (WI)

The changes mean approximately 900 positions across the Fairview system will be cut or slightly less than 3% of their workforce.

Employees will be encouraged to transition to one of the 1,200 open roles within the system.

“Our health system is taking several important steps forward to realize our bold vision to bring breakthrough care to more people, and to address the financial challenges all healthcare systems, including ours, are facing,” James Hereford, Fairview President and CEO, said in a statement.

Fairview said it lost $163 million in the first six months of 2020.

“The changes announced today are steps toward the transformation we need to meet the needs of our community now and into the future,” Hereford said.

“While we must address our financial challenges, ultimately this is about ensuring our future as a thriving and innovative health system; one dedicated to helping and healing patients. To improve health outcomes and experience for our patients, we must be willing to do things differently.”

Bethesda Hospital is planned to lease to Ramsey County to help address the homelessness crisis, and COVID-19 patients housed at Bethesda will be transferred to St. Joseph’s Hospital by the end of 2020.

St. Joseph’s Hospital will become “a community hub of health and wellness,” since it's near other acute care facilities and two emergency departments.

Inpatient mental health services through St. Joseph’s will continue through 2021, along with long-term acute care services.

Fairview will deploy a new ambulatory care model focused on health ‘hubs’ through the end of 2020, expanding services across more than 40 clinics and primary care locations.

“These are incredibly difficult decisions that affect respected colleagues and friends,” Hereford said.

“They are among the hardest decisions an organization must make. They are also critical to our future as a health system if we intend to provide the kind of breakthrough care that improves health outcomes, addresses staggering health disparities, and truly addresses the healthcare affordability crisis in our nation.”

Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, applauded the system’s commitment to service during the peak of COVID-19.

“Consistent with predictions from experts, the state’s Covid-19 response accelerated Fairview’s decision to make substantial changes to their organization,” Benson said in a statement.

“Increased ICU beds and protective measures to serve Minnesotans took precedence from the beginning of the pandemic, despite the inevitable financial and operational impacts to our healthcare system. The leaders at Fairview prioritized people by sacrificing space and making sure our state had enough Covid-specific beds to manage a surge, thus allaying fears of the unknown in the early months of the emergency.”

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.