Mercy Hospital in Moose Lake and Essentia Health are planning to join together in a partnership to enhance health care services in the Moose Lake area, according to a news release on Mercy Hospital's website.

The hospital board issued a request for proposals in fall 2019 to several health care providers, the statement said. The board of directors voted to work with Essentia at its Oct. 28, 2019 meeting.

“A partnership with Essentia is a great fit for our hospital and the communities we serve. Essentia is committing to provide more services close to home for our patients and to explore new opportunities like telehealth,” said Mike Youso, Mercy Hospital's chief executive officer in the statement.

The partnership would end the tax levy that supports the hospital, resulting in lower taxes for some property owners. The 2020 hospital levy is $500,000, said Kathy Korteum, Carlton County auditor/treasurer. The hospital has levied that amount each year since 2015, Korteum said. The hospital's taxing authority covers Carlton and Pine Counties. In 2020, Carlton County taxpayers had a 60% share of the taxes, which came out to $297,239.

The organizations are currently evaluating the potential relationship. Officials said they expect to reach a formal agreement over the summer.

“We continue to work toward integration with Mercy Hospital in Moose Lake — a partnership we expect to finalize this summer," said Louie St. George, Essentia Health spokesperson.