By Frank Lewis
Compass Community Health in Portsmouth will receive $1,191,667 in additional funding at the urging of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
On Tuesday, Brown announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released additional funds and awarded $1,191,667 to Compass Community Health. In June, Brown urged HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell to release outstanding grant funding to help Ohio health centers meet the demand for services.
“Community Health Centers in Ohio and across the U.S. are critical access points for underserved patients,” Brown said. “This funding will help Compass Community Health continue to provide local residents with quality and affordable primary and preventive health care services.”
Ed Hughes, CEO of Compass Community Health, said Compass achieved a Federally Qualified Health Care Center (FQHC) look-alike status in February and at the same time made an application to become a Fully-Funded entity. While they were not selected in the first round of funding, HHS then made a decision to allocate additional funding.
“We got a call about a month ago from Sherrod Brown’s office and Sherrod Brown was getting information about our application,” Hughes said. “His office was advocating for some of those new funds to go to applications in Ohio that were nor initially funded.’
In all, Hughes said eight health centers received funding in the latest appropriation.
“Needless to say we are extremely excited,” Hughes said. “The funding that we will get the $1.191 million is for a two year period and that will help us to offset the cost of the professionals that we hire to provide health care services and will allow us to further expand our ability to provide primary care services to all of Scioto County.”
Compass Medical Director Dr. Terry Johnson said the funding lends credibility to the health progress of the county.
“We all want to see some good news about our area,” Johnson told the Daily Times in an exclusive interview Wednesday. “We’re tired of hearing all of the bad things and we are fed up with the negativity. We want to hear what is being done to address our problems and we are tired of taking a black eye and this is very good news.”
Johnson said the efforts made by Compass to become a part of the community health care scene is now paying off.
“I joined this team 3 1/2 years ago with the intention of doing something truly meaningful to address the poor health measures of our area,” Johnson said. “The wonderful team at Compass then did something that many said could not possibly be done. We achieved our initial FQHC designation. Now we’re advancing to full-fledged FQHC status. That is truly an amazing accomplishment. I fully credit my colleagues on the Compass management team and our board members. I am so proud of them and so proud to be a part of this effort. It has been a remarkable journey. This new designation, combined with our leadership efforts, bring all competing health organizations together in a common cause to improve our regional health.”
Hughes said four people he said “worked tirelessly” to help Compass achieve the current status – Kevin Blevins, Sonie Hash, Erin Trapp and Beth Dunlap.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.