News and Events, Community Partnership, Commitment to Equity

Our vision for breakthrough care in the East Metro

Robust growth at two hospitals. Investments in our community clinics. A new center addressing the social determinants of health. We are evolving to better meet the needs of the patients and communities in the East Metro. 
  • October 26, 2021
  • By Staff Writer

For more than 160 years, we have proudly served St. Paul area and the wider East Metro community. We remain deeply committed to the people we serve, and to our mission to bring breakthrough medicine to all Minnesotans. The East Metro is a key part of our vision for creating a healthcare system that makes healthcare not only simpler, but more affordable, accessible, and equitable.

To better serve the East Metro, we are planning robust growth at two hospitals, paired with a new hub-and-spoke model of care. This vision includes expanded access to primary and specialty care, continued technological innovation, and improved connections to leading-edge University of Minnesota-driven research – so that the latest medical advances are readily available for our communities.

But healthcare doesn’t start or stop at our hospitals or clinics. We know around 80 percent of a person’s overall health is influenced by socioeconomic factors like job status, social support, access to healthy food and more. Many people also face barriers to healthcare. The Fairview Community Health and Wellness Hub taking shape in St. Paul is dedicated to addressing these social determinants of health.

Making healthcare easier – our hub-and-spoke model

Central to our vision is a new hub-and-spoke model. Our dozens of community-based primary care clinics will be closely linked with comprehensive care hubs that bring top experts and specialists together under a single roof. These “one-stop-shop” hubs will be more convenient for our patients, because they provide same-day access to multiple services, such as radiology or expanded laboratory testing.

Each hub, in turn, will be connected to nearby acute-care hospitals. In the East Metro, this will include M Health Fairview St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood and M Health Fairview Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury. We have already started adding new services and investing in new equipment at these locations to bring this vision to life.

Our primary care model is already rolling out in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul, where an expanded and relocated primary care clinic will continue serve the community, in addition to the new residents of St. Paul’s Highland Bridge development. Our primary care clinics in Midway and Rice Street also offer a wide array of care options, from cardiology to diabetes care to prenatal appointments.

Finally, clinics and other primary care locations will have longer hours for better patient access and a wider array of advanced primary care services, while growth in our virtual care options means more people can have their healthcare needs met without leaving their homes.

Leading-edge technology, new services coming to St. John’s

The evolution is underway at M Health Fairview St. John’s Hospital, which will become a recognized advanced care center.

In February 2021, care teams at the hospital began performing complex heart surgeries. We plan to expand cardiovascular care even further. Over the next two years, St. John’s Hospital will undergo a vertical expansion, adding 19,000 square feet of treatment space to the existing building. With a target completion date in late 2022, the state-of-the-art expansion will include two cardiac catheterization labs, two electrophysiology labs, and a hybrid catheterization lab for advanced cardiology procedures.

Planned expansions to our intensive care unit (ICU) and operating room capabilities at St. John’s Hospital – as well as additional infrastructure – will allow us to broaden the scope and complexity of our services and surgeries at that hospital, with the goal of becoming a Level II trauma center.

But that’s not all. This year, we redesigned and expanded the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) – increasing the number of patient beds by 50 percent and adding family-friendly amenities. Our newly upgraded NICU is complemented by our maternal-fetal medicine program, which opened in 2018 and provides expert care closer to home.

Community-friendly changes ahead for Woodwinds Hospital

At M Health Fairview Woodwinds Hospital, we have already been building our reputation for highly skilled obstetric and orthopedic care in our Birthplace. We plan to expand on this expertise by concentrating teams, experience, and technology in order to create a center of excellence. Related to that work, we will expand our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) capabilities so that we can care for babies with more complex needs. The introduction of our Tele-NICU program is the first step in this process. Soon, care teams at Woodwinds Hospital will be able to instantly connect to a neonatologist – physicians who are specialized in handling complex and high-risk births – at the Level IV NICU at M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital. This means families will get 24/7 access to some of the top experts in Minnesota for complicated births.

We also plan to build out our interventional radiology capabilities at Woodwinds Hospital. Finally, this hospital is now the new home of the Woodwinds Hospital Family Medicine Residency, which had been previously located in St. Paul.

We understand that this is a significant change for our patients, employees, and providers, and we thank you for your patience and understanding during this time of transition. East Metro communities are growing, and we want to grow with them. Throughout this transformation, our patients will still have access to the same experts, services, and commitment that earned us the designation as the best care system in the East Metro. 

Our dedication to this community is unwavering. From primary care to end of life, we have an important opportunity to serve our East Metro patients in new ways. Through this new model, we are excited to bring comprehensive, world-class care closer to the patients we serve.