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Essentia's Cloquet clinic opens to patients next week

The 7,600-square-foot facility includes primary family medicine, obstetrics, imaging and radiology, telehealth access, urgent care and a laboratory. Plans for the clinic were announced in August 2019.

At Essentia's new Cloquet clinic.
Physician assistant Hannah Bjerkness, left, talks to a visitor at Essentia’s new Cloquet clinic Monday, May 9.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
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CLOQUET — Essentia debuted its Cloquet clinic and urgent care facility to the public with an open house Monday night. The clinic at 1413 Minnesota Highway 33 S. will open to patients Monday, May 16.

The clinic’s services include primary family medicine; obstetrics; imaging and radiology; telehealth access; urgent care; and a laboratory. The lab can do urinalysis, pregnancy testing, mononucleosis testing and a COVID/RSV/influenza/step test. Any other tests will be taken to the Duluth lab through a courier that will run four times a day.

At Essentia's new Cloquet clinic.
People arrive for the open house at Essentia’s new Cloquet clinic.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

The 7,600-square-foot clinic, which was announced in 2019 and began construction last July after several delays, cost about $4 million. While originally planned to be about 10,000 square feet, the project was delayed in order to reevaluate desired services and to fit within the project’s budget.

Services not included from the original plan are physical therapy, orthopedics and cardiology. Thomas Witt, a family medicine physician, said Essentia will continue to evaluate any other specialty services that would benefit the community that could be added in the future.

“As we looked at the real, essential needs, we did shrink it a little bit, but I think in terms of the essential services we were thinking about, this is exactly what we were planning,” Witt said. “It’s really an opportunity to provide more access, and more convenient access.”


At Essentia's new Cloquet clinic.
Dr. Thomas Witt visits with people Monday, May 9, at the open house.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

The clinic will employ about 10 full-time employees, and will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Urgent care hours will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends. Essentia patients who have gone to other clinics don’t need to do anything to transfer their records to the Cloquet location.

“With the MyHealth record, they can just come right here and all their data transfers down,” said Brad Beard, chief operating officer of Essentia’s east market. “Just make an appointment.”

Physician Assistant Hannah Bjerkness of Cloquet is transferring from the Essentia Health-Lakewalk Clinic in Duluth.

“It was more convenient, plus I just really like my hometown,” Bjerkness said. “It’s always been my goal, to work in my own home town doing family practice, so it was nice that Essentia was opening up a clinic.”

She said the facility will be a one-stop shop for the community, and its staff will make it a priority to see patients locally, instead of sending them to Duluth for basic services.

“People get comfortable with their own providers and they want to see them,” she said. “If you come in and you want to see your provider, you might not see them, but you’re going to see somebody that’s associated with them. I feel like for a small community, people really enjoy that.”

At Essentia's new Cloquet clinic.
Visitors to Essentia’s new Cloquet clinic check out its radiology area.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

The Essentia Health-Cloquet Clinic and urgent care facility was built in place of the former Driftwood Motel just off Highway 33 and was originally planned to open in May 2020.

Cloquet also has health care providers at Community Memorial Hospital, which merged with Raiter Clinic in 2019, on Skyline Boulevard; Min-no-aya-win Human Services Center on the Fond du Lac Reservation; and MedExpress Urgent Care facility in the Pine Tree Plaza Shopping Center.


A KHN review of about a dozen state and county agencies’ grants shows that while some have allocated large portions of the CDC money for projects, they still have spent only a small proportion. Mounting unspent COVID relief dollars is one of the key reasons Republicans in Congress oppose Democrats’ efforts to appropriate billions more federal dollars for managing the pandemic.

Laura Butterbrodt covers health and business for the Duluth News Tribune. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from South Dakota State University and has been working as a reporter in Minnesota and South Dakota since 2014.
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