Sawtooth Mountain Clinic welcomes new behavioral health consultant and plans to upgrade electronic health record system
Sawtooth Mountain Clinic

Sawtooth Mountain Clinic welcomes new behavioral health consultant and plans to upgrade electronic health record system

On Apr. 1, the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic will add a new behavioral health consultant to the team.

Anna Ross, who formerly worked as a social worker and care coordinator with the Cook County Public Health & Human Services, will step into the behavioral health consultant position at Sawtooth Mountain Clinic.

With the recent hire, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic is fully staffed.

“With Anna’s hiring, as of this moment, we don’t have any open positions at Sawtooth Mountain Clinic,” said Kate Surbaugh, the clinic’s CEO. “We are currently fully staffed.”

Surbaugh said the position will help build capacity at the clinic for mental health services in Cook County. “We want to make sure that we also have locally available in-person access to mental health services, and that’s one of the clinic’s major strategic goals. To make sure that we are meeting that community need as best we can.”

She said mental health services were lost in Cook County during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the need for them has been increasing, creating a gap. Surbaugh said the clinic hopes hiring a new behavioral health consultant will help close that gap.

Surbaugh said she is excited to welcome Ross to the team. “I think she’s going to be an excellent addition to the staff.”

The Sawtooth Mountain Clinic held a board meeting on Mar. 25 to discuss various agenda items, including continuing discussions concerning selecting a new electronic health record system.

“Over the course of the last few years, it’s become clear that this technology, the software and database system is just not keeping up with what is needed for healthcare,” Surbaugh said.

She said it will be a multi-year project, and clinic staff are working with IT partners both in-house and at the network level to carefully and thoughtfully decide on a new electronic health record system. The clinic will explore potential funding opportunities for the new system. “There’s a lot of purchasing need for that whole network,” Surbaugh said.

A new system would allow Sawtooth Mountain Clinic to improve communication with larger Duluth health centers and provide better access to patient records. “Being able to communicate clearly and quickly with those bigger centers will be a huge gain and efficiency among many other things that a new system would bring.”

Jonathan Watson, the executive director of the Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers (MNACHC), attended the Mar. 25 board meeting to provide an update on healthcare-related federal and state budgets and spending bills.

Surbaugh traveled to St. Paul to meet with legislators on Mar. 13 and 14. “We did have a lot of legislative visits,” she said. “And they all went really well.”
“We did make the push that we do have a lot of things we need to do at our health centers. And maybe some of those will get in the bills,” Surbaugh said. “If not, we’ve set good groundwork for the next session.”

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Kate Surbaugh, the CEO of Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, following the Mar. 25 board meeting. The audio from the interview is below.