Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Essentia Health mulls merger with Wisconsin-based Marshfield Clinic Health System

The two health systems would form a network of 3,500 providers serving more than 150 care sites in four Upper Midwest states if a merger is reached.

Buildings of the Essentia Health campus fill this view of Duluth's Central Hillside as seen from the air earlier this year.
Duluth News Tribune file photo
We are part of The Trust Project.

DULUTH — Essentia Health is exploring a possible merger with Marshfield Clinic Health System that would create an integrated regional health system serving more than 2 million people in four Upper Midwest states.

The two health systems announced on Wednesday, Oct. 12, that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to evaluate how they might join together and noted their “complementary geographies and capabilities” in a joint statement.

Together, the two health systems could “enhance the level of care in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and North Dakota,” forming a combined network of 3,500 providers with more than 150 sites, including 25 hospitals, according to the statement.

Marshfield Clinic was established in Marshfield, Wisconsin, in 1916 when six physicians formed a group practice. It serves much of central, northern and western Wisconsin, as well as Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Marshfield Clinic bills itself as “one of only a few large independent nonprofit medical clinics in the United States.” It offers 170 medical specialties and a health insurance plan, Security Health Plan.


“I have known and admired the work of Marshfield Clinic for more than 30 years,” said Dr. David Herman, Essentia’s chief executive officer. “I have always appreciated their ability to advance the well-being of the communities they serve. I am truly excited to work together for the benefit of our patients and our colleagues.”

By joining together, the two health systems can better serve their service areas, largely rural and mid-sized urban areas, Essentia and Marshfield said.

“Through a new partnership, we can support the care models, services, research and technologies to ensure sustainable and thriving rural health care,” Herman said.

Dr. Susan Turney, Marshfield’s chief executive officer, said the two organizations would complement each other and have similar missions.

“These are two of the premier health systems in the country, looking to come together to serve rural communities and beyond,” she said. “When I look at Essentia, I see an organization with world-class expertise that complements our own.”

The merger exploration is the latest development in Essentia’s efforts to expand its reach.

Essentia Health in Fargo is seen from the air.
Forum file photo

Earlier this month, Mid Dakota Clinic in Bismarck, North Dakota, joined Essentia.

Mid Dakota clinic has four locations, 40 physicians, 25 advanced practitioners and 280 other employees


“Essentia places a strong emphasis on quality care and shares our values,” said Dr. Andrew Wilder, a radiologist who served as Mid Dakota’s president.

The addition of Mid Dakota followed exploration of a potential merger with CommonSpirit Health hospitals and clinics in Minnesota and North Dakota, including CHI St. Alexius in Bismarck, that didn’t reach fruition.

Essentia and CommonSpirit announced in May 2021 that they had ended merger negotiations five months after they entered into a memorandum of understanding to explore a merger.

Essentia has about 15,000 employees, including 2,200 physicians and advanced practitioners, and owns 14 hospitals, 77 clinics, six long-term care facilities and independent living facilities, six ambulance services and a research institute.

Marshfield Clinic has more than 12,000 employees, including more than 1,600 providers, more than 60 clinic locations, 11 hospitals and a research institute.

In comparison, Sanford Health, based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has 47,757 employees, 2,800 physicians and advanced practitioners, 47 medical centers, 224 clinic locations, 200 Good Samaritan senior care locations and a research institute.

Patrick Springer first joined The Forum in 1985. He covers a wide range of subjects including health care, energy and population trends. Email address: pspringer@forumcomm.com
Phone: 701-367-5294
What To Read Next
Dr. Bill Heegaard has been president of Essentia's West Market, which covers eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, since April 2020.
The charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board were dropped after the Minnesota Nurses Association agreed to its new contracts with hospitals.
The Minnesota Department of Health is closing its state-run testing sites.