Grand Itasca Clinic & Hospital hosted the Wilderness Health “Coordination of Care Roundtable” on Sept. 30.  More than twenty social workers, nurses and care coordinators from hospitals and clinics across the Arrowhead of Minnesota attended.

Wilderness Health is a collaborative of independent providers working together to improve healthcare in Northeast Minnesota and Northwest Wisconsin.  Through smart strategies, such as shared services and accountable care organizations (ACOs), Wilderness Health seeks to transform for rural health care systems. 

Care Coordinators help pair patients with support services in the hospital and at home. The roundtable encouraged participants to share resources and best practices and created networks across the region.

Becca Colby, who works in clinic care coordination at Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital, said, “Care coordinators have a unique role and varied experiences.  We strive to help patients and their families navigate barriers and reduce stress when they are already ill or struggling, while being sure to meet them where they are at. Every day, every person you work with is different, so you never know what challenges will come your way. Sharing new approaches to problem solving and helpful resources with other care coordinators is extremely beneficial and uplifting!”

According to Katie Peck, a registered nurse and care navigator for Wilderness Health, “I wanted individuals to leave with their cup full, knowing that they have support across the network. Too, we wanted to create a ripple effect, creating relationships and partnerships.”  Peck coordinated the event with Michelle Hargrave and Zomi Bloom, also from Wilderness.

Bloom is program manager for the Wilderness telehealth program, which will make access to healthcare in rural Minnesota easier. Access to mental health services was the number one challenge identified in the roundtable.  

Attendees participated via Zoom or in-person from as far as the St. Luke’s Chequamegon Clinic and Rainy Lake Clinic, St. Luke’s in Duluth and critical access hospitals serving smaller communities like Ely, Bigfork and Grand Marais.

The program ended with a tour of the Kiesler Wellness Center in Grand Rapids.  Kiesler is a resource for coordinators of care grappling with the burden of mental and behavioral health illness in their patients. The center provides a safe environment and support with the goal to reduce and prevent psychiatric and hospital admissions through community-based care.