Vail Connect Program Transforms to a New Virtual Reality for North Memorial Health Patients


(Robbinsdale, MN – May 6, 2020) A unique partnership between North Memorial Health and community partner Vail Place has rapidly adapted its service offerings in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The program, Vail Connect, was created in 2016 and formally launched in 2018 and provides housing, mental health and wellness assessments, and resources, support, education and treatment referrals for North Memorial Health patients. Vail Connect provides a bridge between North Memorial Health providers and long-term primary and psychiatric care community supports.

“To minimize any disruption of services and to keep people safe we needed to respond rapidly to the impacts of COVID-19,” said Carolyn Bollinger, Community Services Coordinator for Vail Connect. As the primary “face” of Vail Connect, Bollinger provides case management, provides support for housing needs, and refers people to long-term services. “We were able to work closely with North Memorial Health staff and DHS to shift our work online, and create virtual experiences for the people we serve,” Bollinger added. “This is still a challenge since so many of those people don’t have access to phones or computers, but we’re finding creative ways to solve those problems.”

Since its inception in 2018, the Vail Connect program has expanded rapidly, serving people on Medicaid who typically have a high cost of care due to social determinants of health. While the program began supporting three North Memorial Health locations, including its Emergency Department in Robbinsdale, Vail Connect has since grown to serve more than 90 providers throughout the North Memorial Health system including North Memorial Health Clinic.

“Vail Place has done an excellent job moving to a 100% virtual model in a very short amount of time,” said Jason Rusinak, Director of Population Management, North Memorial Health & North Collaborative Care. “The Vail Connect program is a great example of how we really can deliver by partnering with community service organizations like Vail Place. Our ability to transform this quickly to support our patients, many of whom have urgent needs, is a testament to the partnership between our two organizations.”

The Vail Connect program continues to expand via its new virtual capabilities. Rusinak mentioned that that the program’s rapid adoption rate is due in large part to program “navigators” who find creative ways to make connections between North Memorial Health staff, their patients, and community programs more easily and efficiently. “It also filled an administrative need, by eliminating the gap of time between applying for help and actually receiving it. Meeting the needs of people right away is crucial when they’re at their most vulnerable,” Rusinak added.

The Vail Connect program is part of Minnesota’s Integrated Health Partnership (IHP) program which strives to deliver higher quality and lower cost health care through innovative approaches to care and payment. With this program, Minnesota is one of a growing number of states to implement an ACO model in its Medical Assistance (Medicaid) program, with the goal of improving the health of the population and of individual members.

Media Relations Contact

Katy Sullivan
North Memorial Health

About North Memorial Health

At North Memorial Health, we are on a mission to change healthcare. We’re delivering unmatched customer service and empowering our patients throughout the Twin Cities to achieve their best health. North Memorial Health provides access to high-quality, low-cost care throughout the Twin Cities through its medical transportation services and two hospitals – North Memorial Health Hospital and Maple Grove Hospital. North Memorial Health Clinics which include primary care, specialty care and hospice are part of a joint venture with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota that is transforming the healthcare experience for consumers. Across the North Memorial Health system, 900+ doctors and 5,000+ team members are dedicated to delivering a more connected experience for our patients.