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Mercy Medical Center First Step Recovery


Des Moines IowaThe Basics

Mercy Medical Center is a not-for-profit Catholic hospital with four campuses throughout the state of Iowa. The Mercy Medical Center is Des Moines is the longest operating hospital in the area and employs the largest staff in the state. Founded in 1893 by the Sisters of Mercy and is a member of the Catholic Health Initiatives, Mercy Medical is dedicated to providing services to those of all beliefs and faiths. Included under the MMC umbrella of care is the Mercy First Step program for the treatment of substance abuse and mental health. All services are outpatient, with the exception of a detox program which is available through the adult psychiatric unit.

Treatment and Staff

Prior to admission to the Mercy First Step Center, all potential clients must undergo an over-the-phone assessment process to determine an appropriate level of care. The assessment phone line is open 24-hours per day and seven days a week. By considering the client’s history, prior treatment and a full analysis of other mental and physical health needs, the intake professional determines what level of treatment is required. Clients and the treatment team develop an individualized treatment plan that varies in length and approach. If the client requires detox, they are medically supervised for three- to five-days until they are stable enough for treatment.

Outpatient treatment is available for both youth and adult clients, each track slightly varying to ensure the program is accessible for the appropriate age group. Clients typically attend treatment anywhere from once to as often as three days per week in the beginning stages. Dual diagnosis support is available for clients with co-occurring disorders. Clients who are recommended to begin medication are monitored by a Psychiatrist for medication management. Clients who begin their treatment with detox are given a Suboxone prescription which is carefully monitored and managed by the treatment team as the client progresses through treatment.

Clients participate in group therapy which uses evidence-based practices. Clients also attend psycho-education classes to provide insight on the prolonged effects of substance use and abuse. Group and classes are attended in tandem with individual therapy where lessons and new skills acquired in groups are discussed and practiced. Clients meet with their primary counselor as often as once per week. Included in the treatment practices are sessions with the client and their family, a practice that is considered essential to the recovery success. Therapists meet with the family as a whole and may meet with individual family members to ensure the relationships and bonds are in process of repair.

The staff at the First Step program include both Master’s- and Doctoral-level practitioners. The groups and one-on-one sessions are facilitated by individuals with credentials that include CSWs, CADCs and CASACs. Clients that first detox or need medication are seen by Psychiatrists and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN).


Aftercare is offered through a continuing recovery group at no extra charge to the clients. Through peer-oriented support groups, clients and counselors address relapse prevention techniques and remaining connected in their recovery. If clients complete a program and are having difficulties staying abstinent, special services are offered through continued therapy sessions.

In Summary

The Mercy Medical First Step Recovery Center provides an environment for clients to begin their recovery process with an understanding and accepting staff. Through detox and outpatient treatment for adults and adolescents, clients can restart their lives while still meeting their work, school, family and life responsibilities. With multiple facilities state-wide, Mercy Medical is a good choice for those seeking flexible and affordable support in recovery.

Mercy Medical First Step Recovery Center
1111 6th Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50314

Mercy Medical First Step Recovery Center Cost: Sliding scale or insurance. Reach Mercy Medical First Step Recovery Center by phone at (515) 271-6111 or by email at [email protected]. Find Mercy Medical First Step Recovery Center on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest

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Photo courtesy of Ron Reiring via Flickr [CC0 (] (resized and cropped)

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