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Winona Health’s Community Care Network: Improving Health and Wellbeing One Person at a Time

Winona Health’s Community Care Network has been transforming the care experience for both clients and staff.

“If you had seen me before, you wouldn’t believe what you see today. I was in pretty rough shape. Mentally, emotionally, and physically. Having a health coach has helped me in so many ways,” says Sandy, a client of Winona Health’s Community Care Network. “They encourage you; they don’t judge you. They connect you with resources that you never realized were out there. People have given so much of themselves to me, and now I feel like I can pay that forward to others. There are a lot of things I can still do.”

In partnership with Winona State University, Winona Health developed curriculum to train health coaches to work with community members who have a high incidence of emergency department visits and/or hospitalizations due to chronic health issues.

The program is a “no discharge” program to help assure client’s overall health needs are continually assessed. By all accounts, the program has exceeded expectations.

“So far, we’ve reduced emergency department visits and hospitalization for individuals in the program by more than 85 percent,” said Robin Hoeg, RN, MSHA, NHA, Winona Health administrator for Inpatient and Senior Services, who was instrumental in developing the program.

“The Community Care Network is one of the ways Winona Health is looking at community health care differently,” says Paula Philipps, RN, a Community Care Network facilitator. “This program is a way for us to help people remain independent in their homes and avoid unnecessary hospitalization by providing the right kind of support.”

Philipps emphasizes that health coaches do not provide medical services. “They serve as a liaison between the individual and the healthcare team. They provide information and support to help individuals identify and overcome barriers to managing or improving overall health.”

Brandon, one of the program’s first health coaches, says, “I saw this as an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. I enjoyed meeting time with Sandy and seeing her accomplishments. It’s like she is a different person from when I met her. I was so proud to watch her accomplish what she set her mind to. Knowing that I made a difference in her life was a rewarding and humbling experience. I benefited from being a health coach just as much as Sandy did from being a client.”

Cassie Boddy, a licensed graduate social worker with the Community Care Network, says, “Health coaches take a holistic approach and can help with aspects of good health such as social, emotional and financial guidance. They are dedicated to building relationships and truly enhancing the lives of their clients.”

There is no specific criteria for becoming a Community Care Network client. Interested individuals are assessed to determine whether this service will meet his or her needs and/or whether other community resources may be helpful.

“We take our mission to improve the health and wellbeing of our family, friends, and neighbors seriously and, in fact, it also means helping them stay well,” adds Rachelle Schultz, Winona Health president/CEO. “The commitment, care and compassion of our health coaches is amazing, and they are touching and improving lives in profound ways.”

To learn more about Winona Health’s Community Care Network, visit winonahealth.org.