Essentia Health-Northern Pines


Essentia Health-Northern Pines is a 15-bed critical access hospital located in Aurora, Minnesota. They stand by their mission to make a healthy difference in people’s lives while valuing quality, hospitality, respect, justice, stewardship and teamwork.

In 2015, the hospital began participating in Rural Health Innovation’s Integrative Behavioral Health Program funded by the Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Rural Health and Primary Care.

Essentia Health-Northern Pines Medical Center identified key partners and convened a multi-organizational community mental health task force. This team identified a need for specialized resources/providers and community infrastructures; increased education to decrease the stigma of mental illness; better coordination of current services and improved early intervention as barriers in meeting their population’s behavioral health needs.

Project Goal Discharge patients appropriately with the right supports to maintain stable mental health status
Target Population All individuals who present in the emergency department (ED) in a behavioral health crisis

Strategic Objectives

  • Create community awareness and increase knowledge of behavioral resources
  • Enhance provider networking
  • Improve access to care
  • Streamline coordination of care
  • Create needed supports not currently present for this population

Positive Outcomes Within 12 Months 

  • Decreased cost by 56% for behavioral health patients who present to the ED and need to be transferred 
  • Increased behavioral health access 
  • Decreased behavioral health ED visits by 27% (see chart below) 

Essentia Health Graph

Top Accomplishments 

  • Hired a social worker who has been trained as a quasi-community worker as a resource for the ED 
  • Implementation of a community paramedic program 
  • Telehealth usage has increased, with continued provides education and promotion

This project is supported by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number H54RH00023. The information, conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the authors and no endorsement by FORHP, HRSA or HHS is intended or should be inferred.