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Continued: Minn. mental health center shuts down, stranding thousands

  • Article by: CHRIS SERRES , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 17, 2014 - 10:50 PM

Recently, when Echelberry failed to show up for a weekly group therapy session, he could count on a phone call from Riverwood to see if he was all right. He proudly pointed to a needlework project of a deer buck that he made with the help of a Riverwood therapist.

“Sometimes I was in such bad shape that I couldn’t even talk a straight sentence,” he said. “I would get very suicidal. They were always there to help me through.”

Since rumors of Riverwood’s closing began to circulate last week, county governments have been scrambling to find mental health vendors that could offer the sort of emergency crisis services it provided.

In Chisago Couny alone, an estimated 900 people receive mental health services through Riverwood, officials said. The county is preparing for an influx of phone calls once clients discover that Riverwood’s clinic in North Branch is closed and in-home visits have ended.

Bruce Messelt, administrator for Chisago County, said it would be hard to contact clients because Riverwood was an outside provider and the county does not have access to private client information.

“It’s not like a nuclear concern, where everything will collapse,” Messelt said. “But we are expecting there will be a lot of people who may be disrupted by this.”


Chris Serres • 612-673-4308

  • related content

  • Bruce Echelberry, in his rural Milaca home in east-central Minnesota, described his episodes of depression and suicidal thoughts. He said in a Monday interview that Riverwood Centers therapists had been there for him in some of his darkest times.

  • An employee left the Riverwood Centers building in Braham, Minn., on Monday — her last day of work after the county closed the mental health treatment center, leaving a gap in care.

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