Compass withdraws request for monastery rezoning

May 17, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Compass Community Health is withdrawing it’s request for the rezoning of the property at 2311 Stockham Lane in Portsmouth.

Compass Community Health was looking to turn the former Saint Joseph Adoration Monastery into a medical facility for women with high-risk pregnancies as a result of addiction or other social problems.

In an open letter to the community, Ed Hughes, CEO of Compass Community Health, said, “Upon further consideration, Compass Community Health has decided to withdraw the variance application submitted to the local Zoning Board. We had asked for permission to repurpose the former St. Joseph’s monastery property, currently owned by the Diocese of Columbus, into a private, non-profit medical facility that would house and care for women with at-risk pregnancies and other related health issues.

“We plan to pause the application process, to evaluate program needs and answer questions that came to light in the informational community forum meeting held at the monastery last Tuesday night. Before moving forward, we want to make sure we review and address all the known concerns in the neighborhood where the program will eventually live, in order to succeed in our mission of changing lives.”

The move met opposition Thursday when doctors, nurses and administrative staff at the CAO Health Clinic took exception to what they thought was a slight on Compass’ behalf that those services were not being provided in the community.

“We take care of them. We have for years,” Chris Eaton, clinic director, said. “Ever since they started. The Clinic has been in existence since the early ’70s. At this point and time and for the last 15-20 years, we have provided that service. Our girls represent 25 percent of the deliveries at SOMC (Southern Ohio Medical Center).”

Hughes cited the complexities of the situation.

“Our community has known for some time that health care and wellness are complicated, interrelated issues that cannot be effectively addressed singularly. Here at Compass, we have been working hard to address some of these complexities as we have expanded our services beyond addiction treatment to primary care, housing, employment, and mental health services,” Hughes said Friday afternoon.

Hughes explained the need for expanded services, “Stepping Stone House began as an effort to create access to treatment for women. When we asked women why they did not come to outpatient counseling programs, they told us they didn’t have transportation to the program and had no one to care for their kids if they did manage to get to our services. Many women also said they were living in unsafe housing, often in unsafe relationships. We determined the answer to all of these access problems was the development of residential programs that diminished the need for transportation, provided childcare, education, and a safe and supportive medical home setting.”

He went on to say, “Compass Community Health believes in this community. We live and work here to change lives for the better. We know changing lives is not possible without help, and we continue to value and develop the community partnerships and coalition building that positive change requires. We will continue to work closely and diligently with all of our medical partners to ensure access to health care for a growing population of mothers who seek out our help with delivering a healthy, drug-free baby.”

Hughes listed some facts about the program for the public’s consideration:

• With a history of success treating at-risk mothers and babies (39 babies born drug free in 2012 as a result of partnerships with SOMC, CAO Health Clinic, Jobs and Family Services, The Counseling Center and Stepping Stone House), the program is coming together as a community and building coalitions to deliver healthy babies.

• One in 10 babies born at SOMC is born addicted. When pregnant mothers complete rehab, babies are born drug free, and with access to treatment, people recover, learn and grow to build stronger families.

• The proposed facility would offer compassionate care for high-risk, pregnant mothers who need safe, supported residential housing and on-site/off-site access to related medical services to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby.

• The 15 to 20-bed, medically-staffed, closed facility would feature a security gate and on-site 24-hour/365 day supervision. There would be no on-site visitation from unauthorized visitors.

• 74 percent of our patients/clients come from Scioto, Adams and Lawrence Counties.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.