Hennepin Health Newsletter: April 2015


April 2015



Ross Owen

Julie Bluhm
Clinical Program Manager

Lori Imsdahl
Operations Coordinator


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Hennepin Health is an innovative health care delivery program that was launched in January 2012.

The program is a collaboration between Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center (NorthPoint), Metropolitan Health Plan (MHP), and Human Services and Public Health Department (HSPHD) of Hennepin County.

Hennepin Health members receive care from a multidisciplinary care coordination team. Other innovative features include a common electronic health record, and tiered care that is based upon a member’s identified needs.

Find eligibility and enrollment information at the MNsure website.


For more information about Hennepin Health visit www.hennepin.us/hennepinhealth


Hennepin Health is a 2015 semifinalist for an Innovations in American Government Award from Harvard University’s Kennedy School. The award program recognizes and promotes excellence and creativity in the public sector. Since its inception in 1985, the program has received over 27,000 applications and recognized nearly 500 government initiatives. 

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New Ways to Connect


We’ve got a beautiful new website. Bookmark it at http://www.hennepin.us/hennepinhealth.

We’ll keep it updated with recent highlights, awards, media mentions and more.

Special thanks to Azul 7.



Follow us at https://twitter.com/hennepinhealth.





We’ve filmed two videos about Hennepin Health and have a third on the way. Check them out on our YouTube playlist.


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Provider Spotlight: Lee Goodman, Recovery Coach

In 2014, Lee Goodman’s wife told him about a 40-hour training being offered at Minnesota Recovery Connection (MRC). The training prepared people to become “recovery coaches,” professionals who provide peer support to people in recovery for chemical dependency issues.

Recovery coaches have experienced chemical dependency issues themselves. As a result, they’re uniquely poised to share their personal story and to act as role models, mentors and motivators. Unlike other health care professionals — who may be expected to refrain from sharing too much about their lives — self-disclosure is par for the course for a recovery coach.

At the time, Goodman had over 15 years’ experience as a youth counselor and a chemical health specialist. He’d also had his own experience with chemical dependency; early in life, it had led him to jail and treatment. At his wife’s urging, Goodman applied to MRC’s program.

lee goodman

Within hours of starting the course, Goodman had a revelation about the peer-to-peer philosophy that MRC espoused: “In my work I’d been unknowingly doing this approach [of sharing my personal story] all along.”

As an example, Goodman describes a time, earlier in his career, when he worked with a Native American youth who was resistant to recovery. The day they met, Goodman realized that the two had something in common: both had spent time on the same Indian reservation. He pointed out their connection, and the two swapped stories about the reservation. Later, the youth came back and told Goodman, “My uncle knows you.” Out of that shared experience, a trust had been brokered. The youth was no longer so resistant to recovery and he began taking steps to change his life.


Peer-to-peer support services have existed for decades — both formally and informally — but it was only recently that these services became Medicaid reimbursable in the mental health sector. (They’re still not reimbursable in the chemical dependency sector.)

In 2001, Georgia and Arizona were among the first states to cover certified peer specialists under Medicaid. In 2007, Minnesota followed suite.

Today 26 states have a covered peer specialist service. In the Minnesota mental health sector, an individual may be hired at an entry or advanced level. To be employed as an entry-level certified peer specialist , an individual must:


  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Have or have had a primary diagnosis of mental illness
  • Have received or be currently receiving mental health services
  • Be willing to share their experience of recovery
  • Successfully complete a DHS-approved certified peer specialist training and certification exam

As noted above, recovery coaches in the chemical dependency sector are not yet eligible for Medicaid reimbursement. But this may be changing.


After he graduated from MRC’s recovery coach training program, Goodman worked on the White Earth Indian Reservation. Then, in 2014, Hennepin County’s Diversion and Recovery Team (DART) won a grant from Medica to fund a one-year peer recovery services pilot project. DART provides case management, housing, and chemical dependency treatment for Hennepin County adults who are struggling with severe and chronic substance addiction. The bulk of DART’s services are located at 1800 Chicago Avenue. Goodman joined the team in August 2014 as part of the grant.

In his role as a recovery coach, Goodman works closely with DART case managers and with a core group of 15 DART clients. Each week, he facilitates two support groups. He also sets aside time to meet individually with each client to discuss his or her recovery plan.

Motivational interviewing is a big part of his job. “Change needs to come from them,” Goodman said of his clients.

Helping clients see their inherent strengths is also key. “No one has ever told many of my clients that they’re resilient. They’ve never heard anything good about themselves,” Goodman said. “So when we ask them to tell us about their strengths and they pull something out, you jump on that ... This can be a complicated job when you’re working with someone with deep issues. So if you’re not able to recognize the strengths in other people then you shouldn’t have this job.” 

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Series: Trauma Informed Care

Hennepin Health has committed to working with its providers to implement Trauma Informed Care principles at its sites. Each month, the newsletter will feature a Trauma Informed Care domain, including practical implementation tips and work within the system that represents this domain. 


Julie Bluhm, Hennepin Health clinical program manager

Domain #2: Consumer driven care and services

Involving consumers -- the people we serve -- in determining how we deliver services is a key principle of Trauma Informed Care. Although our work exists to serve consumers, we often forget to involve them in program development and quality improvement efforts. 

While most agree that increasing consumer involvement is important, we often don’t know how or where to start. Consumer involvement can range from soliciting feedback through asking questions, surveys, and advisory groups to employing someone (e.g., a peer specialist or a recovery coach) who has been the recipient of our services to get their perspective and experiences.

So, where to start? Like most quality improvement efforts, you’ll get what you put into it. Start by asking yourself — and having team discussions about — how the consumer voice is heard and responded to in your setting. Are those avenues effective and meaningful? Is the information that is gathered incorporated into real change? Do staff value consumer input?

Do you have a comment or suggestion box that’s never used? If it’s not used, ask yourself why — it may be as simple as not having pens and paper stocked or an inconvenient location. Ultimately, the work in this domain should focus on meaningful ways of collecting feedback and capitalizing on peer-to-peer support opportunities — things that can eventually be incorporated into standard work.

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Sandra Nikolov

In April, Sandra Nikolov became a Hennepin Health social service navigator. Nikolov holds a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and has worked at La Familia Guidance Center, Health Partners and Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC). 

sandra n

Most recently, Nikolov was a community health worker at HCMC’s Pediatric Clinic where she “fell in love” with the idea of integrated, community-based care — a Hennepin Health mainstay — after seeing the ways that social services like transportation, language translation, and housing improve peoples’ health. In her new role, Nikolov will help Hennepin Health members connect to housing.

Here’s are Nikolov’s “best practices” from 13 years of human services experience:

  • Listen. People know what they need.
  • Break it down. Help people create a priority list and determine a first step. This makes change less overwhelming.
  • Create connections in the community. Keep up-to-date on community services. “When I have down time,” said Nikolov, “I research [new or changing services].”
  • Self-care is important. Human services work can be draining.

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Upcoming Events

Community Emergency Assistance Programs (CEAP) is having a health fair on May 5, from 2-4 p.m. in the CEAP Community Room at 7051 Brooklyn Blvd, Brooklyn Center. For more information, email info@ceap.org or call 763-566-9600.

MN Adult and Teen Challenge is having a training called “Treating Anger, Rage and Resentment” on May 7 from 1-3 p.m. at North Central University, 910 Elliot Ave S., Minneapolis. Register at www.mntc.org/quarterly-professional-trainings. For more information, call 612-238-6564.

A Depression Toolkit for providers is now available at the Stratis Health website at http://www.stratishealth.org/pip/antidepressant.html.

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