Cloquet residents are going to have to wait a little longer on the planned Essentia Health Clinic on Highway 33.

The healthcare organization announced plans to build a clinic in Cloquet in August 2019 after purchasing the Driftwood Motel property on Highway 33 earlier in the summer.

As the leaves turned and fell, construction equipment rolled in to demolish the motel, and Essentia held a groundbreaking ceremony for the clinic in November.

Essentia Health held a groundbreaking ceremony for its Cloquet clinic Friday, Nov. 22. Since the groundbreaking, Essentia has chosen to pause construction and reevaluate the design of the facility. Front, from left: Dr. Jon Pryor, president of Essentia’s operations in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin, and Cloquet Mayor Roger Maki; back: Joan Jeanetta, rehabilitation services director at Essentia; Dave Franzen, Ray Riihiluoma Inc.; Tamm Kritzer, senior vice president of operations at Essentia; and Karly Madill, operations administrator at Essentia. (Pine Journal file photo)
Essentia Health held a groundbreaking ceremony for its Cloquet clinic Friday, Nov. 22. Since the groundbreaking, Essentia has chosen to pause construction and reevaluate the design of the facility. Front, from left: Dr. Jon Pryor, president of Essentia’s operations in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin, and Cloquet Mayor Roger Maki; back: Joan Jeanetta, rehabilitation services director at Essentia; Dave Franzen, Ray Riihiluoma Inc.; Tamm Kritzer, senior vice president of operations at Essentia; and Karly Madill, operations administrator at Essentia. (Pine Journal file photo)

Afterward, however, the equipment fell dormant and has remained so throughout the winter.

Essentia media relations specialist Louie St. George said following the initial work, the organization decided to take a step back and re-evaluate the facility’s design.

“This has allowed us to add innovative solutions and incorporate input from those who will be working in the Essentia Health-Cloquet Clinic, all while identifying potential cost-savings,” he said in an email. “We remain fully committed to this project and are excited to start seeing patients in the fourth quarter of this year.”

St. George said the Cloquet Clinic will be slightly smaller than originally planned at about 8,000-square-feet instead of 10,000. The plans still include primary and urgent care services, but the “scope and frequency” of other specialty services are still being determined, St. George said.

Original plans included orthopedics, cardiology and outpatient physical therapy, as well as urgent care services open seven days a week.

The pause in construction wasn’t due to winter weather or anything unexpected.

“It wasn’t so much a delay because of weather or other unforeseen circumstances as it was a decision to be more deliberate about evaluating the facility’s design,” St. George said. “We want to make sure we’re maximizing our space and all of our resources, so it was about exploring innovative design elements, as well as identifying potential cost-savings.”

St. George went on to say the company is actively recruiting providers for the clinic and has already had some success.

Essentia employs more than 500 people in the Cloquet area and serves patients in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota, according to its website. The company employs more than 14,000 people overall, including more than 2,000 physicians and advanced practitioners.