Hennepin Health Newsletter: September 2014


September 2014



Ross Owen
Deputy Director

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/ healthcare

Member Spotlight: Linda



On an overcast morning, on a bench outside NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, Linda described the day, nine and one-half months earlier, that she hit rock bottom.

It was Monday, November 4, 2013, and Linda — who was suffering from severe depression and a crack cocaine addiction — arrived at NorthPoint for an appointment with her therapist, Marylee Temple, LICSW. “I’ve got to go somewhere,” Linda told Temple. “I think I’m going to kill myself.”

Temple immediately picked up the phone and called the Nancy Page Crisis Residence, a People Incorporated residential crisis stabilization facility for adults with mental illness and, often, co-occurring disorders like chemical dependency. The staff agreed to admit Linda the same day.

A cabdriver transported Linda from NorthPoint to Nancy Page, which is located in a three-story Victorian mansion in the Loring Park neighborhood. She stayed there for 11 days, then spent four months at Park Avenue Center, a drug and alcohol treatment facility in south Minneapolis. She completed her inpatient stay on March 15, 2014.

Today, Linda lives in RS Eden’s Emmanuel Apartments, a 101-unit sober, supportive, permanent, singles housing facility in downtown Minneapolis. She has been sober for nine months.

RS Eden

RS Eden's Emmanuel Apartments

A Rough Start

“I felt like it was time to give this life up because nothing was going right for me,” Linda said, in reference to her mindset leading up to November 4, 2013. Yet, it took an act of courage to admit her thoughts to Temple. “I was embarrassed to tell anyone that I needed help,” she explained.

When asked to provide a synopsis of the life that led her to Nancy Page and Park Avenue at age 53, Linda did not flinch.

“My life had a rough beginning,” she said simply, revealing that her parents gave her up to an older couple they knew from Chicago when she was two. The older couple, in turn, gave her up to a woman named Alice who they met while riding a train in Chicago.

Alice became Linda’s mother, the older couple her godparents. Linda never saw her biological parents again. In the years that followed, Linda endured physical, verbal and emotional abuse from Alice’s mother and sexual abuse from Alice’s husband.

Linda was also introduced to drugs at 14. It was the event, she said, that caused everything to topple. By the time she was in her twenties, she was addicted to crack cocaine.

Linda completed her GED when she was 20 and moved to Milwaukee when she was 28. She had five children — two daughters and three sons who now range in age from 27 to 37 — and she worked as a licensed beautician and a certified nursing assistant, among other jobs. But her drug addiction affected every facet of her life, especially her relationship with her children.

My children “have seen it all,” Linda said. “My attitude, violence, manipulation, stealing, prostitution, and crime. They’ve felt unsafe and unsure.” But they’ve “never turned their backs on me,” she added.

Linda’s drug addiction spiraled further out of control. In 2007 she became homeless. “I lived in shelters, in cars, under bridges and with family members,” she recalled.

Then, in 2011, Linda’s oldest son, Eric, convinced her to move to Minneapolis, believing that a new environment might help her turn her life around. Eric lived a few blocks from NorthPoint, and Linda started using the clinic. She liked it immediately. “They listen to me at NorthPoint,” Linda said. She noted that the care coordinators are “insistent” and call to check up on her multiple times per week. 


NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center

A member of Hennepin Health, Linda has found the integrative care she receives invaluable. In addition to addressing her behavioral health and social services concerns, Hennepin Health care coordinators have helped Linda with a myriad of medical issues. She’s received dental and primary care services, eyeglasses, and help for frozen shoulder, arthritis, and a deteriorating spinal disc. “It’s been a wonderful ride,” Linda said, of her experience. “I cry, sometimes, because I’m so grateful.”

Three Lessons Linda’s Learned

  1. “Help is available if you ask for it,” Linda said. “People don’t know you’re struggling if you don’t open your mouth.”
  2. “Some days I’m overwhelmed. But taking small steps and living day by day is all that matters.”
  3. Consistency is key, “in taking meds, in being involved in support groups, and in being honest about what is going on in your life.”

The Future

In September 2014, Linda enrolled at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, where she is taking general education courses. She hopes to become a social worker or a chemical dependency counselor.


Minneapolis Community and Technical College

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Community Outreach for Psychiatric Emergencies (COPE)

“I do a lot of my work on the fly,” said Luther Christensen, when he picked us up in his blue Toyota Corolla. Christensen punched an address into his car GPS, and we drove to Hopkins, and later to Edina, to meet two of his clients.


Luther Christensen

Christensen, LICSW, a senior psychiatric social worker, is a member of Hennepin County’s Community Outreach for Psychiatric Emergencies (COPE) mobile crisis team. The team works with individuals who are in, or who have had, a recent mental health crisis. Clients are often in severe distress and may be experiencing thoughts of suicide, thoughts of wanting to harm other people, or symptoms of psychosis. We met Christensen’s first client — a 22-year-old woman addicted to methamphetamine — at a picnic table outside the Hopkins Depot. 

Hopkins Depot

The Hopkins Depot

In August 2014, the woman checked in to the Nancy Page Crisis Residence two times, after Christensen referred her, but she left early both times. Christensen also set up a chemical dependency assessment for her, but she left the appointment before a provider could assess her.

Now she was living at her mother’s house and still using meth. Her mother was kicking her out in 24 hours.

“Where will you go?” Christensen asked.

The woman didn’t know, and Christensen gave her a list of phone numbers to call, including the Nancy Page Crisis Residence, a shelter, and the number to set up a chemical dependency assessment. Christensen and the client discussed other steps she could take when she finally felt ready to make changes.

COPE's Services

COPE’s stabilization team begins working with individuals in as little as one business day after their crisis. The team provides clients with counseling, psycho-education, clinical risk and diagnostic assessments, and recommendations and referrals. COPE’s stabilization team provides intensive services for a limited duration, usually two weeks to one month, though some cases stay open longer. The service is open to any adult, ages 18 or older, in Hennepin County.

Christensen notes that COPE provides crisis services to adults of all races, ethnicities, genders and ages, including those who are homeless or experiencing co-occurring disorders like chemical dependency.

COPE members

Some COPE staff


We met Christensen’s next client, 28-year-old Rachel, at her townhouse in Edina. Rachel’s crisis occurred on July 30, 2014. That day, the single, stay-at-home mother of three — who had been dealing with severe depression — decided to commit suicide. In preparation, Rachel packed up her children’s belongings. Then, she picked up the phone, intending to call the police and tell them to pick up her children.

She called her cousin instead.

Rachel’s cousin came over to help. And Rachel’s insurance company referred Rachel to COPE. She began working with Christensen immediately.

Christensen diagnosed Rachel with depression. After ensuring that Rachel and her children were safe, the two worked together to set goals for Rachel’s recovery. They were:

  • Find a psychiatric prescriber and get medication for depression.
  • Start going to a therapist.
  • Reduce alcohol use. (Rachel admitted to binge drinking at night to deal with depressive symptoms. Christensen explained that alcohol exacerbates these symptoms and makes anti-depressant medication less effective.)

After one month of working with Christensen, Rachel had met all three goals.

Reflecting back, Rachel identified a lack of social connectedness as a reason for her crisis. She has a hard time asking for help, but said that being a single parent can be “really hard when you don’t have a lot of support.” She explained that the more depressed she became, the less she left her townhouse. “Sometimes I felt like I wasn’t doing anything with my life,” Rachel said.

But she’s determined to build upon the progress she’s made with COPE.

“I’m genuinely ready to get my life on the right track,” Rachel said. “My main priority is to build a better life for me and my kids.” In addition to following through with the goals she set with Christensen, Rachel has decided to return to college.

Rachel’s two older children are in the first and third grades, and the cousin who came to help Rachel on the day of her crisis has agreed to babysit Rachel’s one-year-old so that she can attend class. Rachel she said that her “dream job” after she graduates from college is to work with disabled children.

“I’m really proud of you,” Christensen said to Rachel, before we left her townhouse. “I’m confident that your life can get better. COPE is available 24/7 and is there if you just need to call and check in with someone. I’d encourage you to call and ask for me if you’re having a bad day.”

Back in his Toyota Corolla, Christensen revealed why he became a social worker. “I grew up in poverty and as part of a minority,” he said. “I’ve seen the effects of mental health and chemical dependency issues in my own family and community. Every aspect of my life has led me to this job.”

More on COPE

COPE is available when a severe disturbance of mood or thinking threatens a person's safety or the safety of others. COPE professionals can manage the immediate crisis and provide a clinical assessment. Telephone consultations also are available. This service is open to all adults 18 and older in Hennepin County. 

To reach COPE’s mobile team call 612-596-1223.

Mobile crisis teams will respond to crises in Hennepin County, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Hennepin Health Member Event

Hennepin Health Member Event 1

Hennepin Health is holding a member event in October.

Who: The event is open to all Hennepin Health members

When: Tuesday, October 21, and Wednesday, October 22 from 1 to 4 p.m. both days

Where: The seventh floor of the Minneapolis Grain Exchange Building at 400 S. 4th Street, Minneapolis

Why: The event will give members an opportunity to learn more about Hennepin Heath care coordination services, meet providers and make a primary care appointment.

Flu shots will be available.

Note: Members who need transportation should call the front desk at Metropolitan Health Plan at 612-543-3300 at least 48 hours before the event.

Hennepin Health Member Event 2

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Hennepin Health Focus Groups

Hennepin Health is assembling member focus groups in order to learn what is working and what could be improved. The focus groups are:

  • Behavioral Health and Chemical Dependency
  • Primary Care and Dental Care
  • Transportation and Housing

If you or one of your clients is a Hennepin Health member and would like to join one of these focus groups, please email lori.imsdahl@hennepin.us

The Behavioral Health and Chemical Dependency focus group is meeting on Thursday, November 13, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Metropolitan Health Plan.

Lunch will be provided.

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