Community Partnerships

Grantee Stories

We are proud to share stories about the important community work being done by our grant partners.

Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis Open Higher Ground Medical Respite Facility with Help from the Medica Foundation

Imagine you are hospitalized for severe frostbite on your feet. You can't walk, and standing causes excruciating pain. You've lost your job and your home, and are about to be discharged from the hospital. You don’t have any family or friends to help and don’t know where you are going to go. The hospital gives you supplies to keep your dressings clean and they give you medication for pain, but you aren’t sure how you’re going to recover without a place to stay or knowing where your next meal will come from. Sleeping in a shelter involves standing in line for a bed, and standing in other lines for food, but you can’t imagine how you will manage in your condition. What would you do?

The first patient accepted into the new Higher Ground Saint Paul medical respite unit—part of the new Dorothy Day Place in Saint Paul--didn’t have to imagine this situation; it was his reality. The Medica Foundation awarded Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis a $40,000 grant for a behavioral health professional as part of a new 16 bed facility to serve people discharged from local hospitals needing a safe and dignified place to recuperate and heal. The unit provides care for medically and psychiatrically complex individuals experiencing homelessness who are too ill or frail to recover on the streets, but who do not require hospital-based care. Staff offer nurse care coordination, medication assistance, and behavioral health services to support clients as they stabilize their health. The Higher Ground Saint Paul respite unit is staffed with nurses, a mental health worker, and a community health worker, with support from housing advocates.

Last year, an estimated 300 people were discharged from St. Joseph’s Hospital alone who were homeless and had nowhere to recover. Without a safe, stable home, minor health problems can quickly become life threatening and require costly emergency care. Chronic medical conditions that require careful management—such as mental illness, diabetes, asthma, and cancer—frequently spiral out of control for people experiencing homelessness. The results—both human and financial—can be catastrophic. “If someone has a home, it is easier to recover after an illness or surgery,” said Diana Vance-Bryan, senior vice president of health services and chief administrative officer of Catholic Charities. “Things that seem simple—like getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of fluids—are nearly impossible to achieve if you are homeless. People experiencing homelessness often lack support networks to help them recover.”

Medica is a proud supporter of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis and this innovative facility.

Minnesota Dental Foundation

For two days in July, an auditorium at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN was converted into a massive outreach dental clinic.  The Mission of Mercy is an annual event organized by the Minnesota Dental Foundation to provide free dental services to those in need. Children and adults came from 50 different counties in Minnesota, 23 counties in North Dakota and 13 counties in other states for cleanings, extractions, root canals, dentures and more. An incredible 1,173 patients were served, sometimes coming back more than once due to the complexity of dental needs.  In total, nearly 8,000 dental procedures were performed and more than $1 million in dental services and medications were provided by 841 volunteer dentists, hygienists, assistants, students, medical professionals and community members.

The Medica Foundation has supported this annual event for five years.  We are proud to be one of the many financial supporters of The Mission of Mercy which helps underserved children and adults with an important aspect of healthcare.    

Watch a video of the event and meet people who received care.

Video link:


Catholic Charities

When homeless hospital patients are discharged, they face a number of different issues. Difficult self-care requirements combined with the chaos of shelters, stress and violence on the streets, and a lack of nutrition and basic facilities can result in repeated visits to the emergency room. In these situations, clients simply don’t have the basic necessities to recover. How do you rest if you don’t have a bed? How do you use a prescribed nebulizer without an electrical outlet? These are the simple barriers that keep people from staying healthy, ultimately leading them back to the emergency room.

In order to address these needs, Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis started a Transitional Recuperative Care (TRC) program for adults suffering from illness or injury. Clients receive a simple, furnished room at Catholic Charities’ Exodus Residence in Minneapolis. They have access to simplicities like laundry rooms, TV, exercise equipment, and meals are served three times daily. Catholic Charities also employs an on-site nursing team to dispense medication and manage individual cases.

In 2011, the Medica Foundation awarded Catholic Charities a $30,000 grant to support the TRC program. Since then, the program has seen resounding success and expanded its outreach. In the years to come, the TRC program will expand to the new Dorothy Day Center – now under construction in St. Paul. The TRC program has exceeded expectations, and helped support a countless many on their road to recovery. By taking things case-by-case, they truly make a difference.

Read an incredible story about one man's journey through the TRC program.

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Responding to Mental Health Crises in Rural Minnesota

Range Mental Health Center, Inc. Mobile Crisis Response Team

It’s challenging enough when someone who lives in a large city has a mental health crisis. For people in rural areas, it can be nearly impossible to get to care before a situation turns into a crisis. To address this challenge, Range Mental Health Center received a Medica Foundation grant to help build a Mobile Crisis Response team.

This team of mental health professionals goes to where the crisis is, responding to adults in one of the state’s most remote regions. They assess and stabilize situations to help people get the care they need. The program proved so effective that a children’s Mobile Crisis Response team is under development.

The Mobile Crisis Response Team operates in St. Louis County in northeastern Minnesota. Covering 7,092 square miles, the county is home to some 200,000 residents who live in the area’s small mining towns, farm communities and cities along Lake Superior’s north shore.

Almost 150 mobile crisis calls were handled during the grant period. The outcomes were significant.

  • 60 clients went home with support services
  • 47 clients received crisis stabilization services
  • 72 percent of those served avoided hospitalization.

The Medica Foundation is proud to support the work of Range Mental Health Center. For more information go to

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Granite Falls Living at Home / Block Nurse Program

Staying strong helps people maintain their independence longer. For residents of Granite Falls in southwestern Minnesota, the Block Nurse Program supports this goal. People age 65 and older account for a fourth of the city’s population of 2,897. 

Last year, a Medica Foundation grant supported a new class to help 176 seniors improve their balance and reduce the risk of injuries from a fall. 

An innovative community service, the Block Nurse Program serves people with disabilities and seniors who have chronic diseases and conditions. Nearly half have low incomes. A small staff and more than 78 volunteers provide classes, transportation, friendly visits, in-home assessments and social activities to help people in the area live independently in their own homes. 

The Medica Foundation is proud to support Granite Falls Living at Home/Block Nurse Program.  For more information go to

St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development 

The Medica Foundation awarded a three-year strategic grant to St. David’s Center to serve Somali families. This initiative focuses on addressing the needs of the Somali community to support their children and respond to the significant rise in the diagnosis of autism in Somali children. 

The day treatment program at St. David's was culturally modified and expanded to a new urban site in Minneapolis to serve Somali children under age five. This culturally-specific community model is one of the first in the state. 

Center for Victims of Torture

Minnesota’s newest refugees, arriving from Bhutan, Burma, Ethiopia, Iraq and Somalia are often highly traumatized. The Center for Victims of Torture received a grant from the Medica Foundation to develop a new, culturally adaptable mental health screening tool to provide earlier assessment and access to mental health services for refugees relocating to Minnesota. 

The Center for Victims of Torture is collaborating with the Minnesota Department of Health to determine best practices for implementing this mental health screening tool throughout Minnesota. 

Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES)

CLUES received funding from the Medica Foundation to expand its domestic violence program to support Latino children who have witnessed domestic violence. CLUES offers assessments, support groups and individual mental health counseling for these children and their parents. 

The goal is to empower survivors to become self-sufficient and make their homes violence-free. Support groups break the isolation experienced by survivors and help participants develop a positive, social support network with families with whom they share language and immigrant experiences.

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Making Room for Understanding

Early diagnosis and clinically proven therapeutic interventions are crucial to helping young children with a mental health diagnosis function better within their families and achieve success in school. The Medica Foundation awarded a three-year strategic grant to advance two key initiatives at St. David’s Center. 

The first program established a multi-disciplinary assessment team of professionals in childhood mental health, speech and physical therapy. The team provides same-day comprehensive assessments for children with a high risk of autism and other mental health disorders. This innovative approach was used to provide assessment services to children and families at St. David's Center and in offsite locations, such as shelters. 

The second program addressed the needs of the Somali community to support their children and respond to the significant rise in the diagnosis of autism in Somali children. The day treatment program at St. David's was culturally modified and expanded to a new urban site in Minneapolis serving Somali children under age five. This culturally-specific community model is one of the first in the state. 

"In the Somali language, there is no word for autism. We are the bridge to help parents trust and feel safe." 
  - Amina Hassan, Paraprofessional, St. David’s Center

Learn more about St. David's Center »

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Rebuilding Lives

Women and their children coming to St. Anne's Place, an emergency housing shelter, are looking for understanding, hope, and support to overcome huge obstacles. Cathy's life was so unstable that her four year-old twin daughters seldom spoke and were still wetting the bed when they arrived. Seven months later, both are potty trained and have phenomenal vocabularies.

With a safe home, stable routine, good nutrition and lots of attention, Cathy’s daughters began to thrive and she enrolled in school. She graduated in December and accepted a skilled job that will pay her enough to support her family. Cathy is currently apartment hunting with hopes of setting up her first home this spring.

The Medica Foundation is proud to support Ascension Place, which operates St. Anne's Place, to assist families who are homeless, in poverty and headed by women.

Learn more about Ascension Place and St. Anne's Place »


Demonstrating Impact to State Policy Makers Helps to Restore Funding

In 2011, a series of cuts to Minnesota's Medical Assistance dental benefits limited dental care for adults with disabilities who lived in group homes. During this time, several dental clinics in southern Minnesota closed, significantly reducing access to dental care for low-income people.

In the wake of these cuts, in 2012, the Medica Foundation provided a grant to Apple Tree Dental, a nonprofit dental organization that brings dental care to people who otherwise would be without it. The grant supported bringing staff and equipment directly to group homes to provide dental care for people with disabilities. Legislators visited southern Minnesota to observe Apple Tree Dental’s mission in action. 

Realizing that it was far more cost effective to treat adults with special needs where they live, instead of requiring specialized transportation and support staff, the legislature reinstated reimbursement for these specialized dental services in mid-year 2013.

The Medica Foundation awarded a second grant to Apple Tree in 2013 to increase the number of people with disabilities it could serve in group homes, and to expand access to dental care in southern Minnesota. The Medica Foundation is proud to support Apple Tree Dental, a nationally recognized innovator serving people with special needs. 

Learn more about Apple Tree Dental » 


First of its Kind Program in Minnesota offers Mental Health Services to Support Women and Families – Including a 'Day Hospital'

The Mother-Baby Program at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) is the first of its kind in Minnesota, offering a range of mental health services to support women and families. Only three other programs of this type exist nationwide.

"Debilitating depression and anxiety can begin during or after pregnancy and can affect on average 1 out of 8 women," explains Dr. Helen Kim, Medical Director of the Mother-Baby Program. "To support healthy brain development, babies and young children need to feel safe and secure in relationship with their primary caregiver. 

By strengthening the emotional health and parenting capacities of distressed pregnant women and moms, we are supporting the health of their babies."

With a mission to support families by strengthening the emotional health and parenting capacity of mothers, the Mother-Baby Program at HCMC includes:

  • Hennepin Women's Mental Health Program – Outpatient psychiatry and psychotherapy services for women with depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric concerns before, during or after pregnancy.
  • The Mother-Baby HopeLine – A free, telephone triage and resource line for families experiencing stress or challenges related to mental health symptoms during and after pregnancy, or parenting of young children. Providers may also call with questions related to the diagnosis and treatment of perinatal and maternal mental health.
  • The Mother-Baby Day Hospital – A short-term, intensive outpatient mental health treatment program for pregnant women and mothers with young children who are experiencing depression, anxiety, or other emotional distress.

The Medica Foundation was proud to support the creation of the Mother-Baby Program.

Learn more about the Mother-Baby Program »

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Medica Foundation Grant Launches Community Life Department at Hammer

By Julane Rose and Emily Miller, Hammer Residences, Inc.

In January 2014, Hammer received some great news. We were awarded a $30,000 grant from the Medica Foundation to expand our healthy living initiatives into a Community Life Department. A Program Coordinator was hired to create activities that more comprehensively addressed nutrition, fitness and personal wellness for people with disabilities at Hammer homes.

A first order of business was to create a user-friendly system to communicate, provide wellness resources and track participation in activities. Hammer staff and the individuals we serve were invited to participate in a friendly competition tracking water intake, fruit and vegetable servings, and exercise. Prizes like Twins Tickets and MN Zoo passes and were awarded. The Medica Foundation grant also expanded Hammer’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, with 36 of 46 homes participating.

The results have been nothing short of remarkable.  

Anthony Lott made significant changes in his lifestyle. “Anthony NEVER used to eat vegetables,” but with staff encouragement, he tried different vegetables and researched healthy recipes. He also purchased a bicycle and started biking around Eden Prairie. Now he enjoys healthy foods and exercising regularly. He is super proud of himself!”

Cathy Otto lost 27 pounds since June and says she “feels much healthier.” More importantly, she has been able to lower her blood pressure medication dosage, a meaningful example of the health impact from the program.   

“Ordinary changes in eating, shopping, socializing and exercising help develop inner motivation,” believes John Estrem, CEO. “Hammer is dedicated to the continued success of the Community Life department and the culture of wellness it promotes.”

Learn more about Hammer »