Peterson and Stumpf view the telemedicine room, too

    Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson and former State Senator Leroy Stumpf visited the Northwestern Mental Health Center in Crookston this week to highlight May’s Mental Health Awareness Month and to recognize Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) started under the Excellence in Mental Health Act. Representative Peterson was the first to sign on to the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Act Expansion, NWMHC’s Joan Tronson told the Times.

    NWMHC Customer Service Manager Brenda Dale told Rep. Peterson and Stumpf that phone calls related to mental health have “exploded” and CEO Shauna Reitmeier added they had easily doubled over last year, and that “the need is huge.”

    Reitmeier says they need help to recruit licensed addiction counselors to serve the “explosion” of substance abuse, including the flexibility to go to where the patients are rather than requiring them to come to the office for treatment and guidance.

    During the visit, Peterson and Stumpf shared personal stories with the group about mental health and substance abuse, and noted that generational inheritance is also a concern.

    “Why do we have problems with so many addictions?” Stumpf asked rhetorically. “Last year, White Earth (Reservation) had a lot of overdoses and it was found that Mahnomen County spends close to 40 percent of their entire budget on per diems to transport people (to jail and treatment) which gives us some incite why addictions are exploding.”

    Other topics of concern included the need for more drug and mental health courts, synthetic and medicinal marijuana, childhood mental health, and Medicare.

    Peterson and Stumpf ended their visit with a viewing of a telemedicine room inside the NWMHC, which uses telecommunication and technology to provide clinical health care from a distance and improves access to medical services that might not be available in distant rural communities.


    CCBHCs were created through Section 223 of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act which established a demonstration program based on the Excellence in Mental Health Act. The EMHA program is a two-year, 8-state initiative to expand Americans’ access to mental health and addiction care in community-based settings. Participating states include Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

    CCBHCs are responsible for directly providing nine required types of services with an emphasis on the provision of 24-hour crisis care, utilization of evidence-based practices, care coordination, and integration with physical health care, says the National Council for Behavioral Health.