If you look up the word “fixture” in the dictionary, it has two different definitions – “something securely, and usually permanently, attached or appended, as to a house, apartment building, etc.” or “a person or thing long established in the same place or position.” One would be hard pressed to not find Ed Hughes, Executive Director of Compass Community Health Care in either of those definitions.
Now, Hughes is going into a type of retirement. Hughes is calling his next move a transition. Does that mean he is riding off into the sunset? Not at all.
“I’ll do a little bit of consultation with Compass and The Counseling Center,” Hughes said. “and to some degree I would kind of like to not do anything, kind of clear my head. I’ve never had a problem with filling my mind up with other interests.”
Ever hear the statement – “I’ve retired and I’m so busy I don’t know how I found time to work.” That is not, nor will it ever be Ed Hughes. “I want this to be slow. So if I’m a little bit bored and a little bit restless, that will be okay.”
Hughes graduated from Clay High School, attended the former Ohio University-Portsmouth, worked in the construction industry in the summers, went to the Ohio University Campus in Athens, Ohio, graduated in 1975, and immediately went into the Army, and while in the Army, attended Western Kentucky, where he received his masters degree in counseling and administration.
When Hughes returned to Portsmouth, he worked at Shawnee Mental Health Center for three years. He worked as director of Scioto County Children Services for six years, and then went to work at The Counseling Center in 1989, and eventually replaced the founder – Rem Glass, who died in 1987.
He was employee number seven. The company now employs 264 people at places like the Stepping Stone House for women, the Marsh House for men, Compass Point Housing, and Compass Community Health Center offering primary care which, eventually, became an actual health care center.
Hughes said the opioid addiction problem in America started in Scioto County.
“This is where it started,” Hughes said. “This was the epicenter.” He said the actual epidemic began in 1997-1998.
How did the company come off the early Counseling Center springboard, when he came on board, to the diversified company it is today? How did they transition from a nickle and dime operation to a facility that has grown by leaps and bounds?
“We really believed in the mission at that time,” Hughes said. He is fond of talking about the mission. The mission is to treat addiction as a disease and to realize it is a health care issue. “I think it sounds a little corny, but I really believe it was that faith in the mission, that we were able to have a core group of people that really believed if we did the right thing, the right way, that the money stuff would solve itself. That if we spent too much time worrying about how to make money and lost track of our focus on doing the right thing the right way for the people we were trying to help, that the wheels would fall off and it required a great deal of just faith.”
Compass, one of the largest drug and alcohol agencies in the state of Ohio, now has three corporations – Compass Point Housing, the division that manages the housing as well as the facilities; Compass Community Health, a federally qualified health care center and The Counseling Center, the original piece of the puzzle. The leadership team is made up of Andy Albrecht (The Counseling Center), Summer Kirby (Compass Community Health) and Craig Gullion (Compass Point Housing).
There is light at the end of the tunnel that Hughes experienced from the inception of the drug problem.
“People are getting better,” Hughes said. “We’re seeing it.” That is the mission.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.