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Reimagining St. Joseph’s

Our vision for St. Joseph’s Campus involves creating a health and wellness hub focused on three areas: health, housing, and supportive services.

A once-in-a-generation opportunity.

That’s how we view the chance to reimagine the services available to the community at St. Joseph’s Campus in downtown St. Paul.

St. Joseph’s is the smallest of four acute care hospitals located within a few blocks from each other downtown. More than half of all St. Joseph’s patients came from outside the city of Saint Paul and 72 percent of the hospital’s total emergency department visits were considered potentially preventable with proper primary care – which was one of the highest rates in the state. Acute services and traditional emergency room care can be expensive and may only address short-term healthcare needs without providing a long-term solution for patients.

Based on more than 300 community conversations over the last two years, it became clear that the current care model at St. Joseph’s was not meeting the health needs of the surrounding communities. Nor was that model financially sustainable for our healthcare system.

We believe we can do better for the people in our community. That’s why – as part of our commitment and vision to provide affordable, accessible, and equitable care – the hospital is being reimagined as a community hub for health and wellness. Together with partners, we hope to create a campus that addresses the social risk factors of health, focused on three areas: health, housing, and supportive services.

Most existing hospital services at St. Joseph’s have already moved to other hospital locations in our system, including our highly recognized East Metro heart care center, which has a new home at St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood. The emergency department at St. Joseph’s discontinued services in December 2020.

COVID-19 care

At the end of 2020, our COVID-19 care center relocated to St. Joseph’s from Bethesda Hospital, which now serves the community of St. Paul as a shelter for people without permanent housing.

For months, the COVID-19 care center at St. Joseph’s has been an integral part of our ongoing pandemic response. With the increased pace of COVID-19 vaccinations, we expect COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates to begin to fall.

Based on current trends and projections, we are confident that now is the right time to begin transition planning for staff currently treating COVID-19 patients at St. Joseph’s. Taking place over the next several weeks and months, this planning is a direct response to projected changes in need as vaccinations rapidly increase. Patients with COVID-19 will continue to be cared for at other hospitals within our system with no impact to their care. As this transition planning moves forward, resources at St. Joseph's will be refocused to expand access to COVID-19 vaccinations in downtown St. Paul.

Our healthcare system is built to flex up and down to respond to urgent needs. We are confident in our system’s ability to meet the needs of our community as we continue to navigate COVID-19, including increasing COVID-19 bed capacity should the situation require.

In the end, more than 1,000 patients came through the doors of Bethesda and St. Joseph’s, which were worldwide leaders in caring for COVID-19 patients with a combined 82 percent survival rate overall and 74 percent survival rate for ICU patients. By contrast, survival rates for ICU patients in New York were 12 percent, 50 percent in Seattle; and 39 percent in Wuhan, China. This speaks volumes about our model, our patients and, especially, our employees. We have learned much over the last year from our cohort COVID-19 care model. Now, we will continue to implement those many learnings from Bethesda and St. Joseph’s at sites across the system.

Mental health care

Though we are working to transition many staff to other positions, our inpatient mental health unit at St. Joseph’s will remain on site to help address mental health needs with no change to our current inpatient bed count. Our long-term acute care (LTAC) services at St. Joseph’s will also continue unchanged.

As the largest provider of mental health services in the Upper Midwest, our commitment to mental healthcare for Minnesotans and others has always – and will continue to – run deep.

In addition to inpatient care at St. Joseph’s, our innovative Transition Care Services program is helping people with mental health needs bridge gaps between an initial hospital visit and follow-up care – which can be a particularly challenging and vulnerable time with urgent needs. Based at St. Joseph’s, the program provides same-day access to mental health and addiction care.

“It’s common for patients who are hospitalized or who seek initial treatment to have to wait several days for their next appointment,” said Emergency Medicine Physician and Psychiatrist Richard Levine, MD. “During that time, they may lose their motivation for treatment. Or they may start to feel better and think they don’t need additional care. “The new Transition Care Services program on the St. Joe’s campus is set up to directly target this need.”

Our Mobile SUDS program is a lifeline for people who need addiction care. The program’s mobile recovery team brings services directly to patients our in the community.

On March 29, we opened Minnesota’s first EmPATH mental health service – a pioneering new treatment model that offers rapid, comprehensive care in a calming environment. We’re proud to be the first in Minnesota to embrace this model, which moves emergency mental health care in a pioneering direction.

Transforming health outcomes

Our reimagined care campus at St. Joseph’s is another way that we will better meet the needs of the community today by delivering simpler, more affordable, more accessible, and more equitable care.

“We are resolute in our commitment to the community. We are actively seeking to design this new hub of health and wellness with the community, government partners, and others who have dedicated themselves to service within this community,” said Fairview President and CEO James Hereford.

“This unique site in the center of downtown St. Paul represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the health outcomes of the surrounding communities, to attack health and racial inequities, and to focus on improving health rather than treating sickness,” Hereford added. “To achieve this vision, we must collectively reimagine our footprint in St. Paul to best meet the needs of the community.”