Hennepin Healthcare Primary Care receives $9.7M to fund new integrated mental health resources

by Hennepin Healthcare

Dr. Tyler Winkelman, Division Director of General Internal Medicine at Hennepin Healthcare, received a five-year, $9.7 million sub award from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (MN DHS) to integrate behavioral health care resources in Hennepin Healthcare primary care clinics. The project began December 4, 2023. MN DHS is the recipient of the primary award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and is working exclusively with Hennepin Healthcare to implement the care model, known as Collaborative Care.

The grant funds several new and current positions to implement the Collaborative Care model within five primary care clinics at Hennepin Healthcare. The model has been shown to improve the quality of mental health and substance use disorder care within primary care. The project will make behavioral health care services more accessible through primary care and address health disparities.

“Instead of a patient working only with their primary care provider for their behavioral health, this care model links patients directly to a behavioral health clinician who provides counseling services and frequent check-in and provides support from a consulting psychiatrist,” he explains. “Having these resources to meet patients where they are demonstrates the commitment at Hennepin Healthcare to deliver exceptional care in primary care, as well as the commitment from SAMHSA and MN DHS to improve behavioral health care in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Our team is thrilled to help advance integration of behavioral and physical health in Minnesota,” says Dr. Nathan Chomilo, MN DHS Medicaid Medical Director. “This grant from SAMHSA, our partnership with Hennepin Healthcare and with the communities they serve, have the potential to bring us another step closer to creating community-led, integrated interventions that advance whole person health, address historical inequities in our health care system and improve the health and well-being of Minnesotans served by our state Medicaid program.”

The grant funds several new positions—a project manager and five behavioral health coordinators—for five years. It will also partially fund the positions of several employees already working at Hennepin Healthcare. The Collaborative Care Model will be in implemented in five clinics at Hennepin Healthcare including the Adolescent and Young Adult Clinic, the Whittier Clinic, the Adult Gender and Sexual Health Clinic, the Adult Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) Clinic, and the Adult General Internal Medicine Clinic. Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute (HHRI) will also add its expertise to evaluate the program outcomes.

Dr. Winkelman says even though it is known that this model improves behavioral health outcomes, it is not widely implemented due to the complicated and expensive start-up needs.

“We can now support those start-up costs to build a sustainable program for the community we serve.”

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Hennepin Healthcare is a nationally recognized system of care that includes HCMC, a Level I Adult Trauma Center and Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center with the largest emergency department in Minnesota. The comprehensive academic medical center and public teaching hospital includes a 484-bed acute care hospital as well as primary care and specialty clinics located in downtown Minneapolis and its surrounding communities.