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Work to prepare the former St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth for demolition is underway. The century-old building was replaced by the current St. Mary’s Medical Center, which opened in July 2023.

Site prep will become more visible as the summer progresses, starting with removing skywalks connecting to the hospital. Minnesota-based Rachel Contracting is the contractor and will remove the skywalks starting in early July.

Demolition will involve heavy equipment deconstructing the building and will take approximately one year to complete. The project will require lane closures.

The site will eventually become a temporary green space while the final use is determined.

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June 10-14 is Community Health Improvement Week – a time to honor those working in partnership to improve the health and well-being of the public.

The Aspirus Community Health Improvement (CHI) team works to advance the Aspirus vision by being a catalyst for building healthy, thriving communities.

The community health team partners with community-based organizations to address basic needs such as food, shelter, transportation, education and more.

“As a health care system, we know the services that we provide to community members and the goal is to bridge the gap between health care and community needs so that we can improve the health of the whole person and increase their optimal health,” said Meghan Mattek, Community Health Improvement Lead.

The framework for community health work is identified in the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). This report examines community data and collects input from the community to identify health priorities that impact each community's health and quality of life. The team works alongside community partners to help identify strategies that will help address these top health priorities.

“We understand that only 20 percent of an individual’s health is attributed to clinical care. The other 80 percent is attributed to those factors in our environment where we live, work, and play. They are often referred to as social determinants of health,” said Mattek.

Aspirus has the unique opportunity to be present in the community and come alongside community partners to build solutions that improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve. As a team, Aspirus works to improve community health by:

. Promoting healthy communities

. Address basic needs such as food, shelter and education

. Promote healthier lifestyles, one person at a time

. Knock down barriers to health screenings and needed care

. Create opportunities for people to improve their lives

Rural communities face unique challenges, both clinically and in the community. The CHI team tackles issues such as accessibility, lack of resources, and agency capacity. They continue to help navigate and connect the community to the resources it needs to be successful.

“We understand these issues we are solving are complex and multigenerational, and no one organization can address these alone," said Tara Draeger, Director of System Community Health Improvement at Aspirus Health. "To build healthy, thriving communities, it’s important for Aspirus to be at the table as a partner and as a resource.”