Koochiching was among several counties across Minnesota recognized in four awards with Association of Minnesota Counties’ 2016 ‘County Achievement Awards’ for exhibiting excellence and innovation in their counties.
AMC President Jack Swanson, a Roseau County commissioner, presented the awards at the association’s annual conference Monday in Minneapolis. The recipients were nominated by their counties and selected by a committee of county officials, chaired by 2016 AMC First Vice President Gary Hendrickx, a Swift County commissioner.
Koochiching, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Lake and St. Louis counties; Bois Forte, Fond du Lac & Grand Portage Bands of the Lake Superior Chippewa were recognized for their involvement in the Arrowhead Region’s telehealth initiative.
The Arrowhead Region consists of 23 percent of Minnesota’s geography and is home to 6 percent of the population. Arrowhead Health Alliance Joint Powers counties of Carlton, Cook, Lake, Koochiching, and St. Louis partnered with Fond du Lac, Bois Forte, and Grand Portage Bands of the Lake Superior Chippewa, Aitkin & Itasca Counties, and the Minnesota departments of Human Services and IT to develop a telepresence initiative.
Various entities throughout the region did not have access to the health services they needed, especially for mental health and chemical dependency, nor the resources to obtain these services. Due to the geography, limited resources, and demand for services, telepresence became the most viable option.
The partners worked with other public and private agencies to provide care and access to services throughout the region by creating a network of users that have increased access to otherwise unobtainable services. Psychiatrists and therapists connect to area schools, jails and correctional facilities, and mental health agencies.
Rule 25 chemical dependency assessments are being completed via telepresence, while hospitals and regional law enforcement are in the process of connecting to mobile crisis teams to better manage the rising number of mental health patients in regional emergency departments.