How C4 Consulting Transformed an Ambitious Start-Up into a Successful Treatment Center

How C4 Consulting Helped NIRC

From the moment Northern Illinois Recovery Center (NIRC) first opened its doors, the ambitious team has had a goal to deliver the best addiction and co-occurring treatment services to McHenry County and the surrounding Chicago region.

But, the fledgling company was soon met with unexpected rapid growth and quickly realized it needed guidance from a knowledgeable team that had the experience to show them how to expand successfully.

That’s when C4 Consulting came to the rescue. As NIRC continues to grow to this day, their relationship with the C4 Consulting team has become an integral part of their expansion strategy and success story.

Dive deeper into this remarkable case study as Chris Reed, the Managing Partner of NIRC, gives a first-hand account as to why NIRC chose C4 Consulting for the job and how C4 Consulting transformed NIRC into the thriving treatment center.

“The ultimate goal of our center is to get each client back to living happy, fulfilled lives.
And the NIRC outpatient treatment option supports this goal.”

Since May of 2019, NIRC has strived to provide a continuum of high-integrity care and addiction treatment services to its community. Some of these services include:

  • Partial Hospitalization Programming
  • Intensive Outpatient Programming
  • Outpatient Programming
  • Recovery Residences

Along with immediate growth, NIRC also had to adjust its services to include full telehealth capacity while maintaining the health and safety of its in-person services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With so many major changes flooding into the organization, Reed knew that NIRC needed assistance with:

  • Stabilization after rapid growth
  • Change of key leadership
  • Executive leadership recruitment and onboarding Organizational strategic assessment
  • Future growth management and planning

“I am really not the type of person to pretend like I know everything. I’m very open-minded and I wanted to learn from people who have been in the industry,” exclaims Reed. This ultimately pushed the organization to seek guidance from C4 Consulting.

“We were working on contract negotiations with Blue Cross Blue Shield. To help us navigate that process and try to obtain the best possible rate, we decided to enter into a consulting arrangement with C4.”

From the start, C4 Consulting provided NIRC with the knowledge and experience they needed to overcome the many challenges they faced within their first year of business. From contract negotiations to organizational health and leadership support, NIRC’s relationship with C4 Consulting really pushed them in the right direction.

Furthermore, NIRC needed guidance on how to further develop their continuum of care services and requested interim executive leadership on a monthly retainer basis.

For example, they needed someone they trusted to fill the interim role to:

  • Provide executive administrative leadership: Support current administrative, clinical, medical, and operational leadership and staff.
  • Offer organizational grounding: Stabilize the organization during the interim period of longer-term candidate selection and onboarding.
  • Assist executive management and leadership team: Help with the strategic implementation of systemic process improvements to advance the vision and growth needs of the organization.

“Operating our programming during the pandemic has had its challenges just within our own company. Luckily, C4 was there
to guide us.”

During the heat of the pandemic, C4 Consulting advised NIRC to assess the evolving demands of the safety needs of the pandemic, which led to several successful protocol updates and policy revisions. This provided increased clarity of responsibility and accountability, which positively impacted client care experiences, and lowered AMA/ACA rates.

C4 Consulting also incorporated organizational measurement-based care practices to assess and track compassion satisfaction, compassion and empathy fatigue, and burnout. This was done to address impacts of organizational and vicarious trauma experienced during the pandemic and the company’s initial rapid growth.

Amazingly, this initiative reduced compassion fatigue. In one instance, this EHR change led to opening up an 18% capacity to one full time equivalent (FTE). Other systemic integrations led to streamlining admission processing and improved admissions flow from time of the initial call to admission, showing a 17% increased conversion rate for admissions.

Major Savings and Stabilization During Rapid Growth

Even with the pandemic in full swing, C4 Consulting was able to clarify staffing patterns and enhance data management within NIRC, allowing greater insight into efficiencies the organization had yet to realize in its rapid initial growth.

While maintaining a high client-to-staff ratio, a staffing cost reduction provided an opportunity to increase the number of full-time medical providers. This allowed for enhanced integrated medical and psychiatric services within the core programming.

According to Reed, “We do not wish to remove patients from their families or friends without cause. This is because family members can be valuable resources that offer patients vital support and comfort during what will be incredibly difficult times.”

However, what truly makes NIRC unique is its outpatient treatment program, a treatment option that allows patients to stay connected with the people that are closest to them.

Because of this esteemed approach to patient recovery, along with several other factors that greatly impacted the business in 2019, NIRC was met with rapid growth soon after the center opened up for business.

“Within about a year of our operation, we had grown really quickly. We realized we needed help from someone with experience in the substance use treatment field.”

Almost immediately, NIRC experienced rapid growth during its inaugural year and was presented with the overwhelming demand of its community.

“We went from 12 to 62 employees in a matter of 2 months. We knew we needed help to overcome the challenges that go along with that and also ensure that the proper processes are in place so nothing would fall through the cracks,” Reed states.

In order to fill this need, C4 Consulting brought in Jonathan DeCarlo, a strong executive leadership candidate who has experience in a wide variety of different organizations, to fill these shoes.

According to Reed, “Jonathan (CEO of C4 Consulting) has so much experience to offer our organization. For me, I really looked at it as an opportunity to learn and to improve our organization. Bringing him on, there was no friction. In fact, I think our leadership team was craving it!”

“Some of the biggest changes we’ve seen as a result of contracting C4 was the development of a strong culture of leadership.”

With Jonathan’s help, NIRC experienced a transition in its leadership team.

For instance, it was determined that, in order to support the depth of talent in the current leadership team for sustainable success, an external candidate for the long-term leadership role would be the best fit. During the candidate search, investment in building more clarity and cohesion for the current leadership team was a grounding priority.

Here’s how it worked.

Leadership Support Drastically Improved Organizational Health

First, leadership grounding objectives were met through the lens of system integration for sustainable solutions. Leadership and staff demonstrated the honesty, openness, willingness, compassion, and integrity that define NIRC’s culture and values.

Next, ongoing training and education were provided throughout the initiative, from leadership and management to clinical team education and support. As a result, improved leadership team cohesion was developed through the implementation of organizational and quality improvement policies, practices, protocols, and measures.

This offered the organization an opportunity to assess its rapid growth and understand their overall needs for future expansion. Astonishingly, organizational health and leadership support grounding produced an overall increase in compassion satisfaction and team health!

Along with an advancement in leadership, C4 Consulting also helped NIRC navigate their way through the COVID-19 pandemic.

With newly created staff positions, an overall staffing cost reduction of 12% was achieved, while simultaneously improving the service delivery and client care experience. Overall organizational cost savings netted an 11% cost of production improvement within three months, with a sustainable reduction to service delivery costs of 15%.

Future Growth Management and Planning at the Forefront

Even with the pandemic in full swing, C4 Consulting was able to clarify staffing patterns and enhance data management within NIRC, allowing greater insight into efficiencies the organization had yet to realize in its rapid initial growth.

While maintaining a high client-to-staff ratio, a staffing cost reduction provided an opportunity to increase the number of full-time medical providers. This allowed for enhanced integrated medical and psychiatric services within the core programming.

“Thanks to C4 Consulting, we are leaps and bounds past where we would have been if we were doing this on our own.”

Beginning with a virtual introductory call with the NIRC leadership team, then through the weekly site visits, C4 Consulting engaged the NIRC leadership team and was able to accurately assess their organizational needs.

Within a few weeks of onsite and remote integration, C4 Consulting began to provide feedback on the initial assessment and development of a collaborative stabilization plan during the leadership transition for the organization. Because of the strong advice and specialized initiatives C4 Consulting took in the beginning, NIRC was able to smoothly and successfully expand into the robust organization it is today!

“I think that the value that C4 Consulting brought to us is certainly there,” Reed proudly states. “It’s been a great relationship and there’s a ton of long-term value in it for us.”

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