‘These aren’t luxury services, these are necessary services’

U.S. Sen. Ernst visits CFR in Fort Dodge

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, left, visits with Michelle De La Riva, executive director of Community and Family Resources, Thursday at CFR’s facility, 211 Ave. M West.

When Carrie Cook had her children removed from her home in 2005, she knew she had to make a change.

Cook, of Fort Dodge, was addicted to methamphetamine and experienced alcoholism.

Through the Department of Human Services, she was connected with Community and Family Resources for treatment.

“When I got to recovery, I didn’t even know it was an option,” said Cook, who said she began her battle with addiction when she was 12.

Through the services of CFR, Cook reached a point of sobriety.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, greets staff at Community and Family Resources on Thursday.

“I had really great counselors,” she said. “I am so grateful.”

Later this year, Cook will receive her 15-year chip.

And now Cook works at CFR as an outpatient addiction program supervisor.

“It’s been helpful to me to help others,” she said.

Cook shared her story during U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst’s visit to CFR, 211 Ave. M West, on Thursday.

“Sobriety takes a lot of work,” said Ernst, who thanked Cook for sharing her struggle with addiction and for her efforts in helping others.

Ernst toured the $6.8 million CFR facility, which includes living spaces, a health and wellness room, counseling rooms and a classroom.

It was built in 2019.

On the main floor near the front are the outpatient services like therapy and counseling.

Also on the main floor is the detox unit. In order to keep detox clients comfortable, each room is set up with a hospital-like bed, and it is the only unit with TVs in the bedrooms.

The adult residential treatment programs are also on the main floor, separated into a men’s wing and a women’s wing. Outside the two wings are two gender-neutral bedrooms to provide space for clients who may not feel comfortable in a women’s wing or in a men’s wing.

Each wing has bedrooms, which are set up much like college dorm rooms. There are group therapy rooms on the wings, as well as communal spaces similar to a living room and a kitchenette.

“Fort Dodge is very blessed to have CFR here and the types of services that they are offering,” Ernst said. “Everything from substance abuse all the way to mental health supports as well. We find that these are issues every community struggles with, they just don’t typically have the same level of access that they would here in Fort Dodge.”

Ernst added, “There are clients from all over the state that come to utilize these services.”

In April, CFR was approved for a Paycheck Protection Program loan through the federal government.

The non-profit received a loan for between $350,000- $1 million. It had to meet certain criteria such as not laying off employees during a certain time period.

The loan is through Great Western Bank.

CFR employs about 100 people in Fort Dodge.

Michelle De La Riva, executive director of Community and Family Resources, said the treatment center serves many older adults.

“We have a large number of older population coming in for mental health services,” De La Riva said.

Some of those adults include military veterans. And at times, veterans have had difficulties with payment options for their treatment.

“We have sliding scales, but those don’t work for everyone,” De La Riva said. “One particular veteran had a higher income so didn’t qualify. It made the cost for him to receive services insurmountable.”

Ernst said she and her staff will continue their work in helping veterans receive the care they require.

“We have veterans on our staff that do case management,” Ernst said.

When asked about helping veterans get the services they need, Ernst said, “One issue, like with the veteran who had insurance but that insurance plan didn’t cover the treatment that was here. Ensuring that insurers are covering these types of services. These aren’t luxury services, these are necessary services.”

CFR also serves adolescents. It is one of only four adolescent residential sites in the state.


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