Duluth’s New St. Mary’s Medical Center Honors Native American Culture + the Northland
The new St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth is bringing the outdoors indoors in an effort to create a calming atmosphere for patients and honor the Northland.
According to their press release, Essentia Health says they are this effort is being made across the board, from building design and efficiencies to the latest and best medical technologies, right down to how the building is furnished.
A key element is they are incorporating elements of Ojibwe culture, the Northland and area landmarks to create a hospital that connects with patients from the area and gives everyone a taste of the region.
A different theme was assigned to each patient-care floor, which serve as landmarks to help navigate the hospital. For example, in the cafeteria, design elements and art are inspired by the Native American community. Here, patients and their families will see feature walls adorned with mosaic tile inspired by the art of basket weaving and ceilings covered in canoe shapes.
Essentia notes it took canoes to lead the first European explorers to the headwaters of the Mississippi River, to make fur trade successful and to discover the minerals of the Lake Superior region – all of which are gifts from the Ojibwe.
Jeff Savage, museum director for the Fond du Lac Reservation, said having this history incorporated in the Vision Northland design is an honor.
“With Minnesota’s abundance of lakes, rivers and streams, the canoe is still a large part of the state’s culture,” said Savage. “To incorporate the designs of the Indigenous people of the area into a modern building gives us a connection to the past, present and future of the region, and we are honored to be part of the planning process and to be included in the design of this major addition to the Duluth community.”
Essentia made sure to work with the Ojibwe Historical Society to ensure it was creating a respectful and appropriate space. Additionally, Essentia plans on adding works from local Native American artists throughout the hospital.
Another nice touch in the new facility is that each patient-care floor will highlight a notable area in the region. Upon exiting an elevator, patients will be greeted by a large-scale image that is specific to the floor and can help serve as a guide. These unique floor themes will feature images of Jay Cooke State Park, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Gooseberry Falls, the Apostle Islands and others.
The birthplace, pediatric area and emergency room are themed slightly different. The birthplace visitors will be welcomed by a sunrise, with corridor images of Lake Superior beaches and rock cairns. In pediatrics, bright colors, local wildlife such as moose, deer and more will be found.
You'll also be able to see local and historic landmarks at the new facility with map overlays of areas like Duluth’s Lakewalk, Leif Erikson Park’s Rose Garden and Lake Superior lighthouses being displayed.
Not only that, all private patient rooms have an exterior view, providing scenic snapshots of Duluth, whether it’s Lake Superior, the historic hillside neighborhoods or the North Shore.
In a nutshell, you won't be able to go anywhere in the new St. Mary's Medical Center without being remind that this is very much a Northland facility, and one that respects the area.