Drug use during pregnancy, especially opiates, leads to babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. The First Steps to Healthy Babies program is a partnership between Sanford Health in Bemidji, Beltrami County and Red Lake Family and Children’s Services. Intensive case management services are offered to pregnant women identified as using substances. A harm reduction model focuses on eliminating judgment and shame while empowering mothers to improve the health and social outcomes for their babies.

Katherine Houchins, MSW, LISW, ACM-SW

Director of Case Management and Integrated Health
Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota

Katherine has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota Duluth. She is currently the Director of Case Management and Integrated Health as well as co-Director of the First Steps to Healthy Babies program. Katherine became passionate about working with mothers experiencing addiction after spending five years providing services on an OB unit and witnessing the rapid increase of babies born prenatally exposed to illegal substances. Katherine is passionate about a community partnership, collaboration and innovative solutions to solving this epidemic.

Joseph Corser, MD

Emergency Department Chief of Service
Sanford Bemidji Medical Center

Dr. Joseph Corser grew up in Winona, Minnesota. He attended Washington University in St. Louis, received his medical degree from Mayo Medical School and completed residency at Family Medicine Residency Spokane.  He returned to Minnesota and has worked in primary care, hospital medicine and emergency medicine. He is currently the Emergency Department Chief of Service at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, cares for patients in the Medication Assisted Treatment Clinic at Sanford Bemidji and serves as part-time faculty at the Duluth Family Medicine Residency Program.

Kellie Cole, LSW, LADC

Case Manager/Patient Navigator
Sanford Health-First Steps to Healthy Babies Program

Kellie Cole is a licensed social worker and a licensed alcohol and drug counselor (LADC). Kellie’s passion is working with individuals and families that are touched by substance abuse issues. She currently works as one of the team members of The First Steps to Healthy Babies Program, working with pregnant women affected by substance use disorder. She is also the OB and Pediatric social worker at Sanford Bemidji.