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After years of discussion, Rice County has established a program that will supply the local law enforcement agencies with a social worker specializing in mental health issues that can assist officers and deputies on calls that involve a person in a mental health crisis.

Northfield Chief of Police Mark Elliott said Dylan Harvey will be working under the somewhat non-descript title of Community Based Coordinator, to help and advise Northfield police officers, and in some cases, he will handle the situation himself.

Elliott said the idea of ​​a mental health professional embedded with law enforcement is not a new one, and in fact he has been working with the county since he joined the Northfield Police Department more than three years ago on developing a program like this.

All Minesota police officers are required to have at least 40 hours of mental health training as part of their basic education, with an additional 16 hours of training every three years. But, Elliott said, they are not mental health professionals. Law enforcement, he said, has stepped up to fill a gap in our society over the past few decades, but the better idea is to let a specially trained social worker handle the mental health side of things.

The county has hired three people to fill the role of Community Based Coordinator, plus a supervisor. Elliott said Harvey is not employed by the Northfield Police Department, and the three coordinators will be working together to make the program work.

“It is a county wide program. They have hired three employees and a supervisor. One person will be based out of the Faribault PD, one will be in the Rice County Sheriff’s Office, and Dylan will be here. Between the three of them they are going to serve the entire county. And, of course, they’ll cover for each other if someone is out for the day, so they’ll really be able to respond. Dylan will be based toward the north end of the county, serving Dundas and Lonsdale as well.”

Although the program was just officially established at the beginning of the month, Elliott said Harvey has already assisted on a few calls. Eventually, he said, Harvey will be able to handle some calls on his own.

Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Northfield Chief of Police Mark Elliott can be heard here

NH+C partners with Twin Cities Spine Center

Coming on the heels of establishing a very successful Wound Healing Clinic, Northfield Hospital + Clinics has now established a Back, Neck and Spinal Care clinic at their orthopedic facility.

NH+C President and CEO Steve Underdahl said that 80% of Americans deal with some sort of back or neck pain, but many never seek treatment. Underdahl said the assumption is back pain leads to surgery and a long recovery period. However, he said, that is not necessarily the case.

Underdahl said two of NH+C’s physicians, Dr. Monty Seper and Dr. Jeffrey Melland will do a full comprehensive evaluation that includes health history, review of any past x-rays or MRIs, and a physical exam. After the diagnosis, a full treatment plan will be put together, taking the patient’s condition, age, and lifestyle into consideration, as well as their goals for how they would like to move forward.

According to the NH+C website, the clinic will take a conservative, non-surgical approach whenever possible. Treatment for a neck or back condition can range from physical therapy and low impact exercise, to icing therapy to spinal injections.

Should the condition be serious enough to consider surgery, NH+C has partnered with Twin Cities Spine Center. Surgeons are brought to Northfield to make an assessment of the condition, and from there the team of doctors works with the patient to find the best solution.

The new clinic has been created for several reasons. First and foremost, there is a need for it in the NH+C service area. But also, Underdahl said, the service is there to provide help for the very people who live with the pain of a bad back or neck and believe that it is something that they just have to live with.

“The number of people who live with this chronic and persistent pain and disability relative to their back pain, and spine, and neck issues is a lot of people. And many of them can get some relief by getting the right combination of assessment and therapies.”

Underdahl said in the cases where surgery is required, it will not be performed at Northfield Hospital, but rather at a Twin Cities Spine Center location.

Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Northfield Hospital + Clinics President and CEO Steve Underdahl can be heard here

Council to discuss Nakasian’s departure

And the Northfield City Council will meet tomorrow tonight in the Council Chambers in City Hall.

City Councilor Suzie Nakasian (photo courtesy Griff Wigley/Locally Grown Northfield)

Among the many items on the agenda will be the acceptance of Councilor Suzie Nakasian’s resignation from the council. Nakasian, who has represented the First Ward for nearly 16 years announced last week that she would be stepping away from the council after earlier announcing in May that she would not seek re-election. The Council will also discuss the steps needed in order to fill the First Ward seat for the rest of the term, which will expire in December.

Among the other matters the council will discuss are a second reading of the ordinance allowing sidewalk chalk to be used on public sidewalks, a first reading of an ordinance that seeks to ban Conversion Therapy for minors and vulnerable adults in the Northfield City Limits, and several other items regarding infrastructure and road construction projects.

As always, the city and the council are asking to hear opinions and comments from the public. Anyone who wishes to do so is invited to come to the meeting and address the council on any topic they see fit. Those wishing to voice their opinions without addressing the council should email their councilors directly or post a comment through the eComment button on the “Agendas” section of the City Council website.

Tonight’s meeting will begin at 6:00.

Rich Larson is the KYMN News Director. Contact him at

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