By Maureen Talarico
Essentia Health has purchased the former Younkers store at the Miller Hill Mall in Duluth. The acquisition will allow the Northland’s largest health care provider to offer a variety of services to its patients at a convenient location with free parking.
Essentia Health plans to invest $15 million in the purchase and remodeling of the 145,000-square-foot department store. The Essentia Health Fitness & Therapy Center will move into the first floor this fall. Plans are being developed for the rest of the building and will be announced when they are finalized.
“Essentia Health saw an opportunity to contribute to the redevelopment and vibrancy of the Miller Hill Mall,” said Brad Beard, chief operating officer of Essentia Health’s East Market. “Essentia Health is always looking for locations to better serve our patients and employees. As we grow, we need affordable space that helps reduce the cost of care to our patients.”
Discussions about creating the medical practice of the 21st century have caused Essentia leaders to think about how to best serve the Northland, Beard said. Building new facilities in downtown Duluth became a top priority. Another was making services more convenient for patients by bringing them to places they already visit.
For example, Essentia Health offers services at the West Acres Mall in Fargo, in Cub Food stores in Brainerd and Baxter and next to the Super One store in Superior.
One benefit of the Miller Hill Mall location is acres of free parking. Moving some patients and staff to the mall will open more parking spots in downtown Duluth.
The new Essentia Health Fitness & Therapy Center will fill half of the former department store’s first floor. It will offer a larger exercise area, more equipment and larger locker rooms. There will be a therapy pool, but no lap pool. The staff of trainers, teachers and therapists will stay the same.
“We value our patients and our fitness center members, so we want to make their transition to our new center easy,” said Kurt Radke, the division administrator who supports the Fitness & Therapy Center. “Patients can expect the same high quality of care to aid their recovery and rehabilitation. Fitness members can expect the same professional service and commitment to their wellness and personal fitness.”
The new center is expected to open this fall. Moving to the Miller Hill Mall will offer members and patients many benefits:
Larger locker rooms
Larger exercise area
More exercise equipment
Larger aerobics studio
Two dedicated therapy gyms for greater privacy
Expanded personal training services
A walking track
Free, convenient parking
Essentia Health offers a unique option: a medical fitness center. This means the center not only helps patients recover and rehabilitate but offers them and its fitness members a safe place to exercise that’s staffed by medically trained professionals. The staff helps patients continue to pursue wellness and fitness after treatment for heart attacks, strokes, brain injuries, cancer, orthopedic injuries and surgeries as well as other medical conditions.
“We hope everyone will visit our new center and give us the opportunity to show how we can help you meet your health and fitness goals,” Radke said.