FirstLight Health System

So thankful for this opportunity and don't want it to end. Seemed like a simple concept, but don't know why we didn't get together (in community collaboration)

FirstLight Health System is a 25-bed critical access hospital located in Mora, Minnesota. The hospital is dedicated to providing their communities with the highest quality medical care in a warm and caring environment.

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.

FirstLight Health System identified a lack in providers and long wait times for services; limited education concerning available resources; and limited information sharing among providers as barriers in meeting their population’s behavioral health needs.

Project Goal Determine appropriate level of triage and more efficient use of available community-wide services
Target Population 18-64 years old with major mental illness and emergency department (ED) visits 
Key Partners
  • Kanabec County Social Services
  • Region 7 E Crisis Services
  • Kanabec County Sheriff’s Department
  • Mora Schools
  • Family Based Therapy Association
  • Therapeutic Services Agency
  • Lighthouse Child and Family Services, LLC
  • Region 7 E Mental Health Planner
  • Consumer advocate Steve Hansbury
  • Kanabec County Veterans Services
  • FirstLight Health System

Strategic Objectives 

  • Schedule networking opportunities 
  • Provide community education 
  • Improve care transitions
  • Coordinate care 
  • Apply best practices 

Positive Outcomes Within 12 Months 

  • Decreased Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) scores at six-month follow-up 
  • Decreased ED visits for primary care patients under 65 years old 
  • Decreased total spending on mental health visits in ED (see chart) 

Top Accomplishments 

  • Added a psychologist to team 
  • Increased outpatient medication management through nurse practitioner to decrease need for inpatient care 
  • More communication through billboards and other media about resources, especially those that are prevention-focused 

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.