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Rise's collaboration with Hennepin Health featured in Star Tribune editorial

Rise’s collaboration with Hennepin Health, a pioneering medical program for low-income adults living in Hennepin County, was featured in an ediorial piece in the August 22, 2014, issue of the Minneapolis Star Tribune headlined, Getting at the root of health care costs: Pioneering Hennepin County reform is delivering results.
Hennepin Health staff recognize that joblessness and homelessness are often at the root of its clients’ health challenges. So they contract with Rise to provide individualized career planning, job placement, and follow-up support services to its enrollees. The results are manifold, including an improvement in people’s overall health and a reduction in their medical costs.

For more than 40 years, Rise staff have seen the direct benefits of how going to work improves people’s mental health and enhances their recovery. In 2006, Rise was one of 21 agencies nationwide to participate in a four-year study by the Social Security Administration. The results of the study clearly demonstrated how working can positively impact a person’s well-being.

Eddie Johnson was willing to tell his story to “put a face” on the benefits of this interagency effort for the Star Tribune’s editorial piece. Eddie had suffered a traumatic brain injury as a child and dropped out of grammar school; eventually he earned a GED. This, along with other physical ailments, made finding and keeping a good job challenging. He was also homeless.

But with his health issues recently under control and support from Rise Employment Consultant Pat Meacham, Eddie was optimistic that he was ready to put his skills to work in a good job and would become more self-sufficient. 

Eddie was excited to be hired in October as a machine operator for Greatbatch Medical, a developer and manufacturer of metal enclosures for implantable medical devices in southeast Minneapolis.

“Being a technician brings me back to where I was before all my trials and tribulations,” said Eddie. “I feel comfortable operating machinery--it’s what I know, what I’m good at. The atmosphere here at Great-batch is so positive, it’s beautifully fierce. My co-workers are great and it feels so good to be working.” 

In the Star Tribune’s editorial piece, it was written: “The expansive, not-limited-to-the-doctor’s-office approach taken to improve Johnson’s health is a key reason why the Hennepin Health program is among the nation’s most innovative health reform efforts. 

“Now in its third, year, the county-led program, which serves some of the metro’s poorest and sickest patients, keeps delivering impressive results...and should be looked to as a national model.”

The article further stated that, “Recognizing poverty’s link to illness and emergency room visits, Hennepin Health staff began addressing joblessness and homelessness to improve health and reduce dependency on government programs.” 

And by weaving “social services into patient care, [it] gives the program new financial flexibility to innovate and focus on prevention….Costs for patients who were placed in jobs dropped 60.3 percent (measured on a per-member-per-month basis). Keeping one patient out of a hospital bed for one day is enough to cover a month’s housing for a Hennepin Health enrollee getting housing assistance.”

To read the complete editorial, go to the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s website at:

This article appears in the December 2014 issue of the Rise Reporter.