Congressman Rick Nolan

Representing the 8th District of Minnesota
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KBJR: U.S. Sen. Franken and Rep. Nolan visit Duluth's Birch Tree Center

Oct 20, 2016
In The News

Duluth, MN ( -- Two U.S. lawmakers are giving Duluth high marks when it comes to improvements to mental health care in the state.

Senator Al Franken and Representative Rick Nolan have been fighting for the changes in Minnesota.

They came to Duluth on Monday to see these advancements and solutions for themselves.

Senator Al Fraken and Congressman Rick Nolan are continuing to tackle mental healthcare in Minnesota...

"Senator Franken and I are both committed to making sure we do everything we can. Why? Because it's important to the individuals. At the end of the day it's important to the nation," stressed Nolan.

They toured the fairly new Birch Tree Center and were impressed with Duluth's involvement.

Nolan said, "Duluth has really become a leader in providing the kind of wrap around coordinated services that really can be a model for the rest of the country, but there's so much more that needs to be done."

Duluth health experts sat down with the lawmakers to discuss any major problems that need to be fixed.

"We need more mental health providers. We just do. We don't have enough. I've gone all around this state at rural health, round tables... everywhere I go, same problem," Fraken explained.

Nolan added, "we need to have enough beds in each of the communities so that they can be where their family is, where their community is, where they can get all the help that they need."

Duluth's police department also deals with people who have a criminal record just because of their mental health, which, ends up costing a lot of money because of going "in and out of emergency rooms, in and out of our prisons." Franken continued, "and we can actually do the right thing, the compassionate thing, save a lot of money by getting these folks some kind of wrap around services."

Nolan praised Duluth and St. Louis County officials for coming together for one cause.

"Not to just help that person at that moment in time, but to help them in the long run to get their life on track, and be successful, productive people they so desperately want to be," said Nolan.

Franken also said he has noticed the House and Senate come to a bipartisan agreement that this is a serious problem and plan to address it correctly.