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Growing Health Care Foundation moves to new offices in Grand Marais

Mar 15, 2022 05:35AM ● By Editor

From the North Shore Health Care Foundation • March 14, 2022

The North Shore Health Care Foundation (NSHCF) which works to improve equitable access to health care and healthy living programs in Cook County, supports health and emergency services as well as a multitude of community health programs, has a new home. The nonprofit which serves as a funder, educator, program incubator, convener and advocate is now located at 21 W 2nd St, in Grand Marais.

To celebrate their new offices, the NSHCF is hosting a Friendship Drive now through May 1. Anyone who makes a Friend of the Foundation donation at any level will receive a Foundation Pack including a branded reusable shopping tote, stylish NSHCF logo shirt, jersey mask and vinyl decals. Community members are also invited to stop by the new offices to learn more about the work of the Foundation in Cook County.

As a program incubator, the North Shore Health Care Foundation develops programs and services where gaps exist in Cook County. Success stories include Care Partners of Cook County which provides a variety of seniors’ services and palliative care for end of life and chronic illness. Care Partners was able to go out on its own as an independent non-profit and is a critical community service for many. The Oral Health Task Force (OHTF), which recently transition to a permanent home with the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, also developed out of the Foundation. The OHTF ensures that children and youth ages 0-26, as well as pregnant moms and now seniors, have access to dental care regardless of the ability to pay thanks to a sliding fee scale program. The OHTF has dramatically improved oral health statistics in the Cook County and has helped thousands of individuals and families.

The Foundation is currently incubating the Restorative Justice Program which includes both justice and reconciliation for harms created through crime or relational conflict. Victims, offenders, and community members meet to harness their mutual humanity in pursuit of accountability and shared agreement regarding reparation. Restorative Justice is not simply about making an apology; it is about understanding the motivations of the offender and the effects on the victim. Participation requires strength and courage from both parties to learn about the other and set themselves on a path to move forward in a more positive way.

Cook County MN Restorative Justice is overseen by a volunteer Advisory Committee which includes representation from: Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Cook County Board of Commissioners, the County Attorney’s Office, Probations, Grand Portage Tribal Council, Grand Portage Human Services, Cook County ISD 166 Schools, the Violence Prevention Center, participant and facilitator advocates and an administration team including the North Shore Health Care Foundation’s Executive Director Valerie Marasco Eliasen. The program now has over 25 trained facilitators and has successfully resolved all cases referred through the Courts or from referral partners.

“We have been a busy bunch up here in our neck of the woods, said Valerie Marasco Eliasen, Executive Director. “We are working to build capacity in the community through our role as a critical grant-maker for health services, emergency services and healthy living programs.

‘In December of 2021, we identified an opportunity to partner with the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic to develop and launch the Medical Assistant Training Program by providing and leveraging a $10,000 grant. This innovative collaborative solution with SMC and the Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers (MNACHC) will address a critical workforce shortage and expand access to care by enabling more doctors and nurse practitioners to practice within the Clinic. In the first year alone, this program will provide a certification program and opportunities for six local health care employees and will help sustain our health systems for years to come.”

The NSHCF is supporting and helped deliver the following programs over the last 24 months, either as a funder, educator or advocate, while working on improving our internal operations, building capacity and implementing our Strategic Plan during the pandemic. In 2020-2021, the Foundation awarded $109, 487 in grants to support a variety of local initiatives in Cook County that contribute to a healthy community for all.

2021 Highlights

  • Partnered with Public Health & Human Services on Travel & Lodging study to identify needs/barriers to out-of- town medical care, precursor to solutions - $1,500

  • Advocated for health care workers through public Health Care Appreciation Campaign

  • Partnered in the Cook County Aging Coalition and development of Aging Well Resources Cook County to be launched early 2022

  • Administered the COVID-19 Medical Response Fund we created in 2020

  • Assisted with mass vaccination planning for all ages – 85% vaccination rate

  • Launched the Listings that Give Back: Foundation Home Program with local real estate leaders

  • Hosted 2nd Annual Golf for the Good NSHCF Weekend at Superior National Golf Course – increased participation by 16 players over first year

  • Hosted inaugural Taste of the Trail BBQ Picnic Adventure fundraiser, bringing on three new private Gunflint Trail business partners

  • Developing the new Navigator Savings Pass, Cook County Coupon possible fundraiser for 2022

  • Worked with SBDC and HR expert to develop professional performance evaluation process and policy

  • Evaluated efficacy and implementation of strategic plan, started roadmap of actions for 2022 and beyond

  • Developed the Cook County Youth Vaccination Raffle and awarded $500 in cash prizes to fully-vaccinated youth

  • Helped Hovland Volunteer Fire Department buy a modern fire pumper by leveraging $5,000 in grant money

  • Continued incubation of Cook County Restorative Justice program, including new volunteer training in Grand Portage, recruitment of Grand Portage leadership team, public outreach events, exploring program expansions, making Restorative Practitioners available every Wednesday at Cook County High School, enhanced referral partnerships

  • Received grant from National Association of Restorative Justice and became NARJ members

  • Completed financial audit and improved financial management position

  • Designed and published four editions of new Navigator Newsletter, increased distribution and made available in health facility waiting areas

  • Partnered on Oral Health Task Force and administered remaining $40,000 2020 MDH grant and assisting more than 1,000 individuals across the community.

  • Participated on local Health Care Planning Committee with lead administrators of health care service agencies, Violence Prevention Center, Cook County Board of Commissioners, Grand Portage Health, and others. Delivered Block Grant and Semi-annual Community Grant Program, awarding $51,387 in grants to:

  • Care Partners of Cook County - Seniors services and palliative care - $10,000

  • Cook County Fire Chiefs' Association – Creation of Fire Training Facility - $6,000

  • Cook County Search & Rescue - Advanced Search and Response Training $4,000

  • Cook County Higher Education - Healthcare education and healthy living courses $10,000

  • Public Health & Human Services - Collaborative Transportation Solutions for Elders - $10,000 (returned due to lack of additional funding and rerouted to launch the Medical Assistant Certification and Training Program)

  • The Hub - Medical Equipment Loan Program $1,127

  • Learning Opportunities Through Stories (LOTS) Program - early child education and healthy bonding program - $1,000

  • Great Expectations School - Anti-Bias Education Training for all educators and paraprofessionals $900

  • Northern Lights Health Care PLLC/MN Children's Press: Baby’s Birth Journey Health Care Coloring & Activity Book. $4,360

  • North Shore Minnesota Home School Group: Group Outings Program - $2,500 2020 Highlights Awarded $51,800

  • Care Partners of Cook County – $10,000 for operation of programs, services and new initiatives

  • The COVID-19 Medical Response Fund – $20,000 match of community donations, so health providers and emergency response units have what they need for local response and vaccination efforts

  • Learning Opportunities Through Stories (LOTS) Early childhood education which contributes to mental and emotional health and family bonds - $1,000

  • Great Lunch Program at Great Expectations School to ensure all children have access to healthy food at school regardless of ability to pay, and eliminate singling out children on Free or Reduced Lunch program – $5,000

  • Snacks & Packs for Kids ensures children get food on weekends, holidays and summer break – NSHCF helped feed 63 children from Tofte to Grand Portage, throughout the summer which was critically important during the pandemic onset – $3,000

  • Cook Co. Emergency Chaplaincy Program provides emotional support to First Responders, Law Enforcement, 911 Dispatchers, as well as victims and families on-scene during incidents – $2,000

  • Great Lunch Program Phase 2 to help address additional enrollment and expand the school food program to include breakfast, five days a week – $5,000

  • New Growing Families Program through Cook County PHHS supports one another through childbearing and early parenting during the pandemic and beyond – $7,100

  • Trauma Exposure Training and Peer Support Counselling Training for all staff in Public Health & Human Services – approx. $5,000

“We couldn’t do it without our generous community donors and Friends of the Foundation, the Walter & Phyliss Anderson Trust, the NSHCF Endowment Fund, Justine Kerfoot Memorial Endowment Fund, and grant support from the Lloyd K Johnson Foundation, said Marasco Eliasen. “Anyone who enjoys Cook County whether you live, work or enjoy day trips here, may want to consider becoming a Friend of the Foundation as we support all of our Emergency Services including all of our Volunteer Fire Departments, First Responders, Law Enforcement and Search & Rescue, as well as our hospital, clinics and community health programs so they can be there for you. We offer our sincere thanks to everyone who helps us be the light for health and emergency services in Cook County.”

To learn more about the Foundation and the current work being done, read the March 2022 NSHCF Navigator Newsletter at

Valerie Marasco Eliasen
Executive Director
 North Shore Health Care Foundation
[email protected] or 218-387-5700
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