Address: 505 Cedar Cross Road
Hours: Variable. Providers seek patients on an appointment basis.
Blair Birkett said her organization’s arrival in Dubuque comes at an opportune time.
“We’re still coming out from COVID and there is a lot of apprehension and anxiety,” Birkett said. “This is going to be a mental health pandemic for years to come.”
Birkett is the site coordinator for the Dubuque location of Covenant Family Solutions, an eastern Iowa behavioral health care provider.
Covenant held a grand opening ceremony Thursday for its newly opened Dubuque location — the organization’s sixth. The clinic currently sees patients from age 7 through adult.
“I’m excited we have another mental-health organization coming to Dubuque,” said Birkett, who is a licensed mental health counselor and yoga instructor. “When I was growing up here, (mental health) wasn’t really talked about.”
Birkett is a Dubuque Senior High School product with graduate degrees from University of Northern Iowa. She has practiced since 2016 in the Waterloo and Des Moines areas before returning to her hometown two weeks ago to begin seeing patients at Covenant’s Dubuque location.
“I do love the Dubuque community,” she said.
Founder and CEO Jacob Christenson started Covenant in 2013, while serving as a professor in the marriage and family therapy program at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids.
“It started with just me and then I hired a couple of people to work with me,” Christenson said. “Ever since then, we haven’t stopped hiring.”
Christenson eventually focused his attention exclusively on Covenant, which began expanding.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to increase access to care,” he said.
Dubuque joins existing Covenant locations in Coralville, Marion, Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids, where there are two sites.
“We have two providers in this office right now starting here, and there are six offices total,” Christenson said, noting that the Dubuque location has room to expand. “What we do is whenever we get to the point where we’re getting full, we recruit and hire more people.”
As a result, Christenson said, Covenant aims to reduce wait times for patients seeking an appointment.
“We generally don’t have more than a two-week wait,” he said.
Christenson said wait times can be much longer for patients in Iowa, where federal data suggests the state ranks 44th in the nation in the ratio of mental health providers to residents. Relatively low numbers of providers can mean monthslong wait times in some parts of the state.
“Our philosophy is we don’t want to make people wait more than a few weeks to get in for care,” he said.