Hennepin Health Newsletter: September 2015


September 2015



Ross Owen

Julie Bluhm
Clinical Program Manager

Lori Imsdahl


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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.


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for more information.

Hennepin Health will expand to serve families and children in 2016


This fall, Hennepin Health will work with the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to develop and sign a 2016 Families and Children contract. This opportunity is the result of DHS’ competitive procurement process, through which health plans compete to offer the best service at the lowest price.

Beginning January 1, Hennepin Health will be one of three managed care organizations in Hennepin County to serve children, pregnant women, and adults with children who are on the Prepaid Medical Assistance (PMAP) or Minnesota Care program.

Hennepin Health is busy preparing for this milestone, and is strategizing about innovative ways to serve new populations.

Please keep in touch for updates!

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Jon: a member success story

Fifty-four-year-old Jon has a poster of Muhammed Ali in his apartment. “Impossible is nothing,” it reads, next to an image of the gloved boxer — his mouth open in a triumphant roar. Jon’s had that poster since 2000. Its words are his motto. He’s looked at them time and again, even as he’s dodged one curveball after another.

Jon is a recovering alcoholic with depression and bipolar disorder. We profiled him in Hennepin Health’s November 2014 newsletter.

Here’s a recap of Jon’s life then and now:

Jon then

In 2011 and 2012, Jon experienced homelessness for 13 months. Then the owners of a car wash offered Jon a job and a place to stay — in the side room of their carwash. They paid him $25 per day under the table.

At first, Jon was grateful. Eventually, he realized that they were taking advantage of him. He also realized that he didn’t know where else to go or what else to do.

Overwhelmed with hopelessness, Jon could not envision a life worth living. On February 6, 2013, he experienced intense suicidal urges. But “Suddenly, it was like a flash,” Jon said. In his head he heard these words: “Don’t do it. Get help.”

Jon called the Nancy Page Crisis Residence. They sent a cab to pick him up.

Over the next week, Jon experienced intense flashes of heat and cold. The detox symptoms became so debilitating that staff sent him to Hennepin County Medical Center. When he was released a few days later, Jon stopped by the same pub on the way back to Nancy Page and drank eight more screwdrivers.

“When I came back intoxicated, the staff chewed me out,” Jon recalls, but that was the turning point. “I’m just killing myself,” he realized. After that, he resolved to “stay put” and let the experts dictate his next step — a 90-day stay at the Huss Center for Recovery.

Huss was not Jon’s first inpatient chemical dependency treatment, but the difference was that Huss was tailored to people with co-occurring disorders. “[Before Huss], I didn’t realize the link between chemical dependency and mental illness,” Jon said. In fact, prior to Nancy Page, Jon didn't even know that he had depression and bipolar disorder. Incorporating chemical dependency and mental illness treatment changed everything.  

After his stay at Huss, Jon lived at Mission Lodge, a residential center in Plymouth for men and women with chronic chemical dependency.

Throughout it all, Hennepin Health's care coordination services helped Jon navigate the health care system and integrate his medical, behavioral health, and social service needs. Destiny Powell, a community health worker at Hennepin County Medical Center, is Jon's care coordinator. 

While at Mission Lodge, Jon spoke of his desire to get his own apartment, finish high school, get his driver’s license reinstated, and find a job. He was also interested in becoming a certified peer specialist, and reuniting with his three adult children who he hadn’t seen or spoken to in several years.


Jon in October 2014, at Mission Lodge

Jon now

On Wednesday, January 22, 2015, Jon was offered an apartment at Hamilton Manor, a Minneapolis Public Housing Authority residence in north Minneapolis. When his certified peer specialist from People Inc., took him to visit, Jon was awestruck. “[I thought] oh my God, I’ve never had a place like this,” he recalls. He moved in on January 25.

Soon, Jon reunited with his three children. His daughter was the first to see his apartment.

Jon Hamilton Manor

Jon in September 2014, at Hamilton Manor

Jon also began visiting his mother, his cousin Gretchen, his aunt and uncle in Minneapolis, and his aunt and uncle in Maple Lake. He helps them with housework, like mowing. Both of Jon’s uncles have had strokes and are appreciative of the assistance.

Reconnecting with family has been phenomenal. “The whole time I was out there [at Mission Lodge] I wanted my family,” Jon said. But, “It was something I thought I’d never get back.”

This year, Jon also began speaking to residents at the Huss Center for Recovery. He usually speaks three times per month for one hour each time, to groups of 15 to 25 residents. “I get their attention really fast,” Jon said, of his presentations. “I take pictures of the cars I banged up [while intoxicated] … I bring my criminal record and pass that around in the group … I’m like a big brother [to them.]” Jon’s overriding message: “You just don’t give up.”

Jon also attends support groups himself — a Mental Illness Chemical Dependency group on Mondays, and an Illness Management and Recovery group on Fridays.

In October, Jon plans to start classes at the Volunteers of America Adult High School in Minneapolis. He dropped out of the Roseville Area High School in 1978, just 11 credits shy of graduation, and is eager to earn his diploma. “There are jobs that I can do that require a high school diploma,” said Jon, who is still interested in becoming a certified peer specialist.

Jon reveals that, since February 6, 2013, he’s been back to the site where he contemplated suicide a few times. He finds the area “peaceful.” Yet, he also thinks, “How dumb of me. But I didn’t know at the time that I had anything worth living for.”

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Webinar about engaging hard-to-reach populations

On September 15, Hennepin Health participated in a webinar with The Lewin Group -- which detailed innovative strategies for engaging hard-to-reach Medicaid and Medicare enrollees. Watch a recording of the webinar here.

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Hennepin County launches public health magazine


Hennepin County just launched an online public health magazine. It's called Healthy You, Healthy Hennepin and it can help you stay connected to health resources in the county.

Get your free subscription on Hennepin's GovDelivery subscription portal.​

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Trauma informed care series

Trauma Informed Care (TIC) is the belief that a quality health care, human services and/or social safety net organization needs to address the impact of trauma on every person in that organization. 

Hennepin Health supports trauma informed care and is committed to working with its clinics and providers to implement TIC principles.

For the past few months, each issue of the newsletter has featured one of the seven TIC domains. We share practical ways to implement that domain and showcase examples of current work that supports it. This issue focuses on Domain #3.

Trauma Informed Care Domain #3: nurturing a trauma informed and responsive workforce

Part III: management and organizational strategies

Working in caregiving environments comes with an emotional cost that can lead to personal and professional consequences. The previous installment of this series addressed the impact of helping others — and offered coping strategies. This installment will cover management and organizational strategies for preventing and responding to secondary trauma.

Health care and social service organizations require employees who can be highly responsive to the unpredictable needs of their clients. This can mean frequent activation of “fight or flight” reactions. Combined with exposure to traumatic material — like reading and conducting assessments, listening to clients’ stories, and witnessing violent or angry outbursts — the entire agency can become at risk for being impacted by secondary and vicarious trauma.

Over time, and without adequate employee support, the resulting culture may be characterized by individual self-neglect, the value of “toughing it out,” risk-taking, and denial of personal needs. This can lead to the following:

  • Tendency to devalue/ridicule clients, colleagues, community partners, donors
  • Employee cynicism, depression, lack of motivation
  • Employees who doubt the efficacy of their interventions
  • Workers with excessively high expectations for their and others’ work performance
  • Employees who withdraw from colleagues/team
  • Employees who deviate from professional behavior
  • Loss of interest in work and decreased ability to complete tasks

The items above are signs that your staff or colleagues may be struggling and need helpbut they can easily be interpreted as a need for discipline. If staff feel like they will be ignored, devalued, demoted, or fired, they will not seek the resources they need to understand and address their trauma. While disciplinary action may be necessary, understanding the origins of an individual’s distress can help supervisors engage in more effective interventions and coaching.

There are strategies that organizations can take to maximize employee functioning — and to prevent and respond to trauma:

  • Encourage connections, morale and relationship-building between staff by working in teams, and by organizing social activities and peer support networks
  • Encourage staff communication and contribution
  • Provide staff at all levels of the organizational hierarchy a voice in decision-making
  • Provide staff with information about how and why decisions about resource allocations were made
  • Allow employees to take time off after increased work load or crisis exposure
  • Diversify workload (i.e., allow employees some direct client work balanced with other duties, such as systems level or preventive work). This can decrease employee exposure to traumatic material, provide perspective, and offer an opportunity for reflection.
  • Provide a safe, private work space and a calming place to decompress
  • Allow staff to have personally meaningful items in their workspace — pictures, items, or quotes that remind them of why they do their work
  • Make sure that consultation is productive. A “hallway case consultation” culture that respects confidentiality is fine, but teach staff containment strategies so that employee processing is helpful, not harmful.
  • For managers and supervisors, set a good example by practicing work-life balance, and encourage your staff to do the same. Openly value things and people outside of work and take allocated leave time.

Responding to specific traumatic incidents:

  • Develop crisis policies, procedures, and protocols
  • Establish a debriefing strategy that can be deployed immediately; some organizations have implemented “after action reviews,” a strategy used in the American Armed Forces
  • After a traumatic incident, provide immediate, instrumental support to impacted individuals (e.g., help them to focus by doing an activity together like organizing a room or completing a concrete task)
  • Understand each individual’s help-seeking patterns and use coaching as necessary
  • Maintain relationships with services that can be deployed when staff need help (e.g., employee assistance program providers)
  • Provide ongoing, accessible support. Many staff impacted by a traumatic incident don’t realize it until months later; have a mechanism for checking in regularly.

(The above is adapted from information provided by the Headington Institute and Angela Lewis-Dmello, LISCW, Domestic Abuse Project.)

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