Case Study – The Northern Illinois Recovery Center (w/Chris Reed) – C4 Recovery Solutions Podcast Episode 6

Episode 6: Case Study – The Northern Illinois Recovery Center

Season one comes to an end with an in depth look at a case study for C4 consulting – the Northern Illinois Recovery Program. Managing partner Chris Reed takes us behind the scenes into the creation of the program and the tremendous benefits that have come from consulting with C4.


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Jack O’Donnell Welcome to the sixth episode of the C4 Recovery Solutions podcast. I am your host, Jack O’Donnell. Some of you might know me as the CEO of C4 Recovery Foundation. As many of you know, C4 is dedicated to improving access to high-quality, ethical treatment services for behavioral health and social wellness. We are fierce advocates for the often overlooked individuals and underserved populations within our society. Through innovation and forward-thinking, C4 has developed service delivery systems for addiction and recovery programmes throughout the US and throughout the world in some of the most challenging environments.

Each week on this podcast, we will hear stories from people who have benefited directly from programmes C4 developed, those who assisted C4 in the process, and especially those still involved in the implementation of the programmes today.

On today’s episode, we’re discussing the case study of the Northern Illinois Recovery Project performed by C4 consulting. The Northern Illinois Recovery Centre is a truly unique treatment facility. What began as an impromptu gathering of like-minded sober individuals has evolved into a growing community of addiction specialists and people in recovery. From its humble beginnings in an empty warehouse to operating a legitimate treatment facility, Northern Illinois Recovery Centre certainly understands the process of transformation. This is where Chris Reed comes in. Chris is a managing partner at the Northern Illinois Recovery Centre. And now, here is his story.

Chris Reed So, Northern Illinois Recovery Centre has been around since 2018. We officially opened in early of 2019. And we have been in operation fully with our PHP and IOP programme since July of 2019. We provide outpatient services as well as housing for people in an outpatient setting. The difference between the two is typically the hours per week somebody’s engaging in services with us. Our PHB is five days a week, and IOP is typically three days a week. And there’s a difference between PHP, which is partial hospitalisation programme, and IOP, which is our intensive outpatient programme.

So, we chose this location in Illinois, primarily because this is where I personally got sober. I had also started a not-for-profit organisation called New Directions that was based out of Crystal Lake. Also, when we first opened, there was a really positive reaction from not only just the recovery community, but the community in general. We have a pretty robust mental health and behavioral health network of services. And the substance use treatment space was pretty much at capacity. There wasn’t a ton of providers in the local community.

We serve, at Northern Illinois Recovery Centre, a wide demographic and – and geography from the Chicagoland area, Southern Wisconsin, Northeast Indiana, and Southern Illinois as well. Part of the reason for that is that we do offer a pretty robust housing programme that goes along with our outpatient programme. Typically, one of the reasons that somebody is not engaging in outpatient services is there’s barriers preventing them from doing that with us. Transportation, getting to and from. You know, they aren’t in a stable living environment, so they continue to use in the outpatient setting. So, we kind of eliminate those barriers by giving somebody a place to live while in outpatient with us. And that just kind of draws referrals from all over the Chicagoland area.

We have only sober adults. So, eighteen and up. As far as the standard demographic, I’d say about half – half the census is – is typically that eighteen to twenty-six range, equal split between male and female, and then, kind of that thirty-six to fifty-six range, male and female equal split.

So, we started with the partial hospitalisation, intensive outpatient, and our housing programme. About sixty days after Northern Illinois Recovery Centre open, we did obtain joint commission accreditation, both in our clinical outpatient programme and in our housing programme. We have a sliding scale cash rate and then we do take all major insurances. Our housing fee is really the only thing typically not covered by insurance, which is $600 a month.

We started entertaining C4 as a consulting firm within about a year of our operation. Maybe a year and a half into what we were doing. We had grown really quickly. And I didn’t have a ton of experience, you know, running or operating a clinical team as well as an operations team in the substance use treatment field, you know. So, we started that engagement about six months ago. And – and it’s been going really well. I think that the biggest changes that we’ve seen as a result of contracting C4 was building a strong culture of leadership. I think we’ve been able to elevate the people on our leadership team to be performing at a much higher level, as well as creating a lot of efficiencies. They’re able to bring in right this knowledge. And – and we’re not repeating the same mistakes maybe the other places have. And in the next twelve to fourteen months, we’ll have a detox, residential, PHP, IOP, and outpatient.

Operating, you know, our – our programming during the pandemic has had its challenges just within our own company, I think, it forced people to work together to be collaborative and creative. And a lot of the things that I think really set us apart and really allowed us to deliver good outcomes was us being able to take clients to outside meetings and take them to do their own grocery shopping and go to the gym, get a haircut. And so, alongside the outpatient services they were getting clinically, they were also getting real life experience in the recovery community and participating in everyday lifestyle things that’s going to, you know, help them readjust into life in recovery.

Jack O’Donnell As Chris touched on, the Northern Illinois Recovery Centre provides services to many people from Chicago and the surrounding counties. The ultimate goal of the centre is to get each client back to living happy, fulfilled lives. The outpatient treatment options they provide support this goal. They do not wish to remove patients from their families and friends without cause. They can be valuable resources, which offer patients vital support and comfort during what will be incredibly difficult times. Therefore, the ideal evidence-based addiction treatment centre Northern Illinois offers will typically be an outpatient one. Their outpatient programme options include a partial hospitalisation programme, an intensive outpatient programme, an outpatient programme, and sober living.

For today’s panel, we are joined by Chris Reed. First off, tell me a little about your position with the company. How long have you been with Northern Illinois Recovery Centre? And how did you come to be the managing partner there?

Chris Reed Sure. I mean, I started this with one of our other managing partners, Rob Ryberg. We were able to really kind of put our minds together and bring this service to Illinois. And we started this conversation since 2018. We were able to secure a building and put capital together, and, you know, get our treatment license from the state of Illinois. We opened the doors July of 2018. So, I’ve been there since – since it was a thought and a phone call and – and, now, all the way through. My daily role within the organisation is, you know, as a managing partner, just continuing to grow the business and – and making sure that we are delivering the type of care that we want to deliver. You know, really enforce, like, the vision of our ownership group. And then, you know, a sprinkle of, right, putting out fires here and there.

Jack O’Donnell A little bit everything. That sounds great. You know, I’ve actually opened a treatment centre, you know, in my past as well. And there’s always challenges. What were some of the bigger challenges you had getting this up and running?

Chris Reed I think we had some – some Cadillac problems, to be honest. We – we went from twelve, I think, sixty-two employees in a matter of two months. And just the challenges that go along with that and making sure that processes are in place and that nothing was falling through the cracks. And I think we did a pretty good job. But yeah. There was certainly some – some things to go back and pay attention to when kind of the dust settled and we had everything in place. So, when it comes to HR processes and onboarding and training and – and some of those things, we really had to go back and take a better look at.

Jack O’Donnell Yeah. I’ve always said the role of a managing director or a CEO is more like a glorified HR person, because you do seem to spend most of your time, you know, on HR issues.

So, tell me a little bit about how, in the planning process, how you settled on intensive outpatient as kind of your first product line, so to speak, versus, you know, opening a residential treatment centre.

Chris Reed Sure. So, my background really comes from the nonprofit space and operating sober living. And that was really where I was the most comfortable. And for us, you know, boarded PHP and IOP just seemed like a… Not low risk, but it just seemed like a palatable place to start. And it was. It – it – it allowed us to grow at a pace that was manageable and it allowed us to not have huge capital investment from the beginning.

Jack O’Donnell You know, I – I have to tell you. I was really excited to do this podcast with you today, because, you know, C4 is really mostly known for its philanthropic work, developing systems in the public sector market. And I don’t think a lot of people really realise that we have this robust consulting division. And that’s actually the division that – that wound – that your organisation wound up working with. How did that come about? How did C4 stumble into your life?

Chris Reed You know, our – our ownership group has some strong connections within C4 and has worked with C4 in the past. And, you know, I’ve known Jonathan DeCarlo for a little while. I’ve known Rob Ryberg for a long time, since I started my, you know, process in recovery. And I’d just always known that Rob was involved.

Jack O’Donnell Well, yeah. For those that don’t know, Rob Ryberg is a partner in Northern Illinois Recovery Centre. And, actually, Rob is also a board member at C4. And – and to tell the truth about it, he actually started this consulting division some time ago as Peak Consulting. And C4 acquired that from Rob.

Tell me what was the first project C4 did? I – I thought I heard Jonathan tell me at one point that we initially came in, you know, to do some insurance review for you.

Chris Reed We were – we were working at contract negotiations with Blue Cross Blue Shield and some of the other payers in Illinois. So, we had entered into a consulting arrangement with C4 to help us navigate that process and try to obtain the best possible rate. Somewhere in the – the midst of that, we began discussions on – on bringing in Jonathan DeCarlo, who’s an interim CEO, to try and build up our leadership team and just really ensure that we’re of maximum service as a leadership team and that we were being the best that we could be for, you know, the clients that were coming to us for help.

Jack O’Donnell Both C4 and Northern Illinois Recovery Centre, I think, we were lucky in the sense that we had that kind of talent on the bench, so to speak, that we could slide somebody in at that – at that very high level, the kind of the CEO level. What was that like for you? I mean, in your organisation, having an outsider come in, you know, at such a high level in the organisation.

Chris Reed You know, having somebody like Jonathan come in as CEO, I am really not the type of person to pretend like I know everything or that I’m gonna be the best at whatever. And I’m very open-minded. And, you know, I want to learn from people who have been in the industry. And at the end of the day, you know, Jonathan brings that to the table and has so much experience in different roles within a wide variety of different organisations. So, for me, it was just… I really looked at it as an opportunity to – to learn, to improve our organisation. And I know that this investment right now, in the early years of our organisation, will pay dividends, right, for us long-term. And so, bringing him on, there was no friction. I think our leadership team was craving it. And for me, I only have, you know, so many skills that I could bring to the table. And I think it just kind of went above what I was capable of doing.

Jack O’Donnell Well, you know, it’s – it’s great to recognise that. But I think it also gave Northern Illinois, you know, some time to do the adequate search to bring in somebody to replace your CEO, you know, instead of feeling rushed and possibly bringing in somebody in that, you know, you’re going to have more turnover. So, I think it was a really wise decision on your part. And I’m glad it worked out, because – because, you know, Jonathan – Jonathan does have the skill set. So, that’s great.

Chris Reed He very much. He’s built a strong relationship with a lot of our staff and – and vice versa. So, you know, I think he’ll, on some level, be involved in some way, shape, or form for a long period of time.

Jack O’Donnell So, he comes into really kind of replace a – a key management person that left the organisation at the CEO level. And then, did you go back out and hire another CEO or did you decide to knock it down a bit and bring in an executive director and then kind of give some room to grow?

Chris Reed We – we were able to bring in Nick Howell as our executive director with, you know, intention of there being some growth opportunities there. So, we’re continuing to grow as an organisation. We’re bringing out detox and residential in the next few months. That executive director role continue to have, you know, opportunities and added responsibilities. There’ll be growth in that role.

Jack O’Donnell So, you’ve gone from kind of outpatient kind of services, and you’re moving into detox now. Is that – is that a step toward residential as well?

Chris Reed Yeah. So, we will have a sixteen-bed detox and residential facility that will flex between detox and residential services.

Jack O’Donnell Wow. That’s terrific. So, at the end of the day, Illinois Recovery Centre is really going to have a full continuum of care for, you know, for their clients, which really is the ideal model for long-term recovery here. It’s just – it’s just outstanding. I’m really glad. I’m thrilled that C4 has been able to help with this process. And we look forward to, you know, hopefully, a long-term relationship.

I mean, that’s – that’s what makes this case study so interesting for us is that it starts with a very small project and we wind up doing three or four different things. And that’s really a perfect relationship between a consultant company and the operators. So, I want to thank you for the opportunity to be involved. And we hope to have a long future with you. And – and, most importantly, thanks for today. We appreciate that you are – are letting us tell our story and your story in this podcast.

Chris Reed I – I think that the value that you guys have brought to us is certainly there. And we are leaps and bounds where, you know, in the past where we would have been if we were doing this on our own. So, yeah. It’s been a great relationship. And there’s, like I said, there’s a ton of value in it for us.

Jack O’Donnell Well, it really sounds like Northern Illinois Recovery Centre is achieving its goals of getting each client back to living happy with fulfilled lives. So, great job and we hope to talk to you soon. Thanks, Chris.

Chris Reed Thanks, Jack.

Jack O’Donnell Thank you to the final episode of the C4 Recovery Solutions podcast, brought to you by C4 Recovery Foundation. For more information, please visit our website at or email us at You can find both our email address and website in the show notes.

Be sure to rate, review, and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you like to listen. Stay tuned for more to come. I’ll see you the next time on the C4 Recovery Solutions podcast. Goodbye.