North Memorial Health announces job cuts

According to North Memorial Health, the cuts will affect about 100 jobs including the closure of its outpatient mental health program in Robbinsdale.

ROBBINSDALE, Minn. — North Memorial Health has announced plans to cut more than 100 jobs, including closing its outpatient mental health program in Robbinsdale.

According to a statement from North Memorial, “team members will be eligible for re-employment at North through other open roles.”

A spokesperson for North Memorial said around 3,400 mental health patients will be affected by the cuts and it’s working to find care for them at other clinics and service centers.

“We’ve had smaller places close, residential facilities, day treatment, programs for children, but this is a fairly large clinic, part of a larger health system and they’re closing,” said Sue Aberdholden, the executive director for the Minnesota chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

She says these cuts will have a significant impact on patients across the Twin Cities. “People are already waiting months to access therapy and even longer for psychiatry.”

Abderholden says she’s less worried about the employees who lost their jobs because a lot of clinics and hospitals are hiring mental health workers, she’s more worried about the patients.

“I think some people are going to be devastated by this. They will wonder what happens next. A few are already living with anxiety, right? And now you know your clinic is going to close in August, which gives you some time but that’s just going to increase their anxiety.” she said.

She’s also worried about the underlying issues behind this closure.

North Memorial Health says it struggled financially to provide mental health services in Robbinsdale due to a growing number of patients covered by government-sponsored health plans.

“Medicaid is the largest payer of mental health treatment, the largest payer, not private insurance. We all know Medicaid pays a whole lot less, and so they’re operating margins if you will are like zero, or next to none. When you’re operating under that kind of thin margin it’s difficult sometimes to keep places open,” Abderholden says.

The Minnesota Hospital Association agrees, in a recent statement the association says because of public programs Minnesota hospitals provided more than $2 billion in unpaid care last year.

Nearly a third of that figure, about $800 million, was due to state-sponsored Medicaid programs, according to the statement from the association.

“We’ve talked to lots of mental health providers who say we can’t keep going with these low rates,” Abderholden says.

Because they make less money from Medicaid patients Abderholden says more clinics are deciding to not accept new Medicaid patients, some aren’t accepting them at all.

“Clinics are certainly within their right to say we can’t accept any more Medicaid patients. Now, that’s not something we want to see, because we want to make sure people can access care, but that is a concern.”

Abderholden says there is legislation floating around the state capitol to address this issue, to boost Medicaid payment rates.

She says it’s not likely the rates will go up to the level they’re hoping for, but she is hopeful they will see at least a minor increase by the end of the year.

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