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The new face of healthcare in DL: Peter Jacobson to start Oct. 3 as president of Essentia Health-St. Mary's

PETER JACOBSON will officially begin his duties as the new president of Essentia Health-St. Mary's on Monday, Oct. 3. Though he and his wife Ann live in Fargo, he said he will be spending "75 to 80 percent" of his time in Detroit Lakes, in addition to serving as senior vice president of the western Minnesota market for Essentia, which includes overseeing facilities in Ada, Fosston, Park Rapids and Menahga, among others.

Though his tenure as the new president of Essentia Health-St. Mary's won't officially begin until Monday, Oct. 3, Peter Jacobson is already in the midst of transitioning his office from Fargo to Detroit Lakes.

"For the past couple of weeks I've been spending a portion of my time out there (in Detroit Lakes)," said Jacobson Monday from his office in Fargo.

Jacobson has been a part of Essentia Health since 2008, when he joined the organization first as vice president, and later senior vice president, of clinic and regional operations.

He will retain part of those duties in his new position as well; Jacobson has also been named the senior vice president of Essentia Health West Region-Minnesota Market.

"Parts of my job are staying the same, but some are changing," Jacobson explained.

Basically, in addition to serving as the senior administrative leader of the Detroit Lakes hospital and clinic, Jacobson will have administrative supervision of Essentia Health's medical facilities in Ada, Fosston, Park Rapids, Menahga and other communities in northwestern Minnesota.

"I anticipate spending about 75 to 80 percent of my time in Detroit Lakes," Jacobson noted.

He feels that one advantage of being part of a larger health system for clinics and medical facilities in smaller towns lies in being able to combine and share positions.

"For example, we just hired a new urologist who will be spending about 50 percent of their time in Detroit Lakes, and the other 50 percent will be split between Park Rapids and Fosston," he said.

By sharing the position, each of these communities will have direct access to specialized services, when otherwise patients might have had to travel to a larger, metropolitan facility to obtain the same service, Jacobson explained.

Though he will be spending the majority of his working hours in Detroit Lakes, Jacobson said that he and his wife Ann do not have immediate plans to move to the community from Fargo.

"My two youngest children are in high school at Fargo North," he explained. "I anticipate spending a great deal of time in the community, but we won't be moving our primary residence out there until the kids are through with high school."

That doesn't mean they won't be spending as much time at the lake as they can, however; Jacobson grew up spending his summers on Ottertail Lake, and still has family living in that area.

"We love to be out in the lakes area," he said. "I enjoy spending time with family and friends, and doing activities with them.

"All of my children (Emily, Nathan and Lydia) and I play a lot of tennis," he added, noting that it's a favorite family activity for them.

Besides spending time with his family and friends, Jacobson said he enjoys being involved in community organizations and volunteering with them at various functions.

A native of Grand Forks, N.D., Jacobson received his undergraduate education at the University of North Dakota before going on to obtain his master's degree in business administration from the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Business Management.

He spent a few years living in the Twin Cities and working as the chief operating officer for Fairview Lakes Regional Health Care before moving to Park Rapids, to take a position as president and CEO of St. Joseph's Area Health Services.

He also served as CEO of the Lake Regional Health Care Corp. in Fergus Falls prior to taking the position with Essentia Health.

"I've been in the health care industry for 25 years," he said. "A lot of my experience has been in small to medium-sized communities, and quite honestly, that's one of the biggest attractions to taking on this role (at Essentia Health-St. Mary's) -- the opportunity to work in a community where health care is very much aligned and integrated between the hospital, clinic, long term care and home care."

In the short term, Jacobson said his goal is to become fully acquainted with all the different aspects of the EHSM healthcare system.

"I've got a lot of learning to do," he said. "But from what I've seen so far this is a great group of employees and volunteers who are very committed to their community."

Long term, he added, Essentia Health is always looking for ways to share and expand the services offered in its member communities. "I'm really excited about the opportunity to join this medical community and work with what I consider to be a great group of people and a great organization," he said.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454