As a part of her 99 County Tour, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), visited Hope Wellness Center in Woodward. Hope Wellness Center offers services and a safe place through Genesis Development for individuals who may be experiencing a mental health crisis, including crisis intervention services and transitional living services.


During her visit, Ernst took a tour of the facilities, including the wings for crisis intervention and for transitional living before taking the time to discuss mental health services with employees at the center and even heard some success stories from a few of the residents.


Ernst said that with mental health being one of her priorities in the U.S. Senate, the visit to Hope Wellness Center was a productive one.


“I’m excited to see facilities like this and I do believe we need more supports like this across, not just Iowa, but across the United States,” Ernst said. “There are a lot of issues that we struggle with, both on the mental health front as well as substance abuse and if we can keep the recidivism down and help families and individuals, this is what we need to be supporting.”


Karen Rosengreen, director of services at Hope Wellness Center, said that she hoped Ernst was able to take away an understanding of their services as she goes back to Washington to work.


“I think understanding the importance of what we do and how it affects people that we serve,” Rosengreen said. “The needs that we need and the flexibility and the funding.”


When it comes to supporting mental health care facilities, like the Hope Wellness Center, Ernst points to the 21st Century Cures Act, which was passed by the U.S. Senate last year.


“The 21st Century Cures Act… was part of that effort in providing more of those dollars to mental health supports, jail diversion programs, substance abuse programs,” Ernst said. “So it’s a good start. We have to continue that though. We can’t just do one bill and expect that the problems are just going to go away.”


During her visit and discussion with employees and residents of the facility, Ernst got a chance to talk with Shane Laird and Kyle Willis, who took a chance to share their success stories going through the program.


Willis discussed how far he has come since arriving at the facility as an addict. He now works a full-time job at Casey’s General Store in Granger and even has a chance to help others through a leadership role at the Hope Wellness Center.


Karen Rosengreen, director of services at Hope Wellness Center, said that she was “humbled” that Ernst took the time to see the facility and was happy that Willis and Laird were able to be involved.


“I’m very excited that Kyle and Shane were able to join us,” Rosengreen said. “I think that… experience is definitely the way to learn what we do.”


Ernst said it was “amazing” to get a chance to talk to Laird and Willis and hear their stories.


“They have been through some difficult times, and for them to be very optimistic now about their future and the fact that they will be able to remain sober moving into the future is important and they know that they can rely on folks here to provide that support as well,” Ernst said.