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Nicholas Addison Thomas

Director of Content Marketing, National Council for Behavioral Health

Moving Behavioral Health Care Mountains in Rural Minnesota

April 15, 2020 | Awards of Excellence | Comments
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Accessing mental illness and addiction treatment in rural Minnesota can be challenging. As a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC), Northwestern Mental Health Center (NWMHC) is helping residents get the care they expect and deserve. In this spotlight, we interview Shauna Reitmeier, CEO of NWMHC, the newest recipient of our Awards of Excellence program’s Innovation at Work award.

What does winning this award mean to you and your organization?

“Receiving this award signifies that NWMHC is creating a space where people in their most vulnerable moments feel like they can get what they need to thrive. This culture is rooted in the commitment and dedication of our entire team, all of whom are willing to jump in and deliver new services and structure new processes so our clients can receive the best possible care.”

How are you innovating to help people with behavioral health care needs thrive?

“To some, innovation is simply the way we do business. We’ve created a ‘no wrong door,’ open-access approach to services. We use technology, such as telemedicine and regional virtual care team clinics, to provide a true community-based service delivery model. Through this work, we’ve averaged a 30% new client rate in the past three years.”

How has being a CCBHC enabled you to strengthen your community?

“The CCBHC service delivery model has allowed us to expand our services by increasing our number of substance use providers, adding MAT and care coordination, and strengthening our partnerships and collaboration within our community. It has also allowed our agency to invest in key clinical and administrative positions to assist us in designing our strategy for sustainability.”

How has the National Council helped you make a mark?

“The National Council is a key supporter and advocate for NWMHC and many agencies like us. We took advantage of their technical expertise to uncover process improvements that would make us more effective and efficient in how we deliver services for quality outcomes. Through their leadership and advocacy, we saw the opportunity and benefit of becoming a CCHBC. Without the National Council driving this model of care, NWMHC would not be in the place we are today.”

If you could share one lesson learned with your peers, what would it be?

“In the past several years, I’ve learned to keep moving forward. Stay current, try new things and focus on the reason why we do this work. It’s about the person walking through our doors or picking up the phone to request our services, and it’s about recognizing the moments to engage and be a part of someone’s opportunity to thrive.”

Shauna Reitmeier, MSW, LGSW, has more than 20 years of experience in the behavioral health care and cognitive disabilities fields. NWMHC serves a comprehensive array of behavioral health care services to adults, children and families across six rural and frontier counties of Northwest Minnesota.