#CompassAdvocates, News & Events

Compass Heads to San Diego for Training, Advocacy, and More

This week, Compass staff Summer Kirby (CEO), Eva Gitome (CFO), and Erin Trapp (Clinical Director) traveled to San Diego to attend National Association of Community Healthcare Center’s (NACHC) annual Community Health Institute (CHI) and Expo. While there they looked for opportunities to network with representatives from Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers (FQHCs) from all across the nation, as well as attend general and individualized informational sessions on topics vital to community health center (CHC) operations and interests.

During the opening general session, participants were greeted by new NACHC Board Chair Jim Luisi. Luisi took the opportunity to remind the audience of the fast approaching FQHC fiscal cliff and the important role advocates will play in the coming weeks. They also heard from a community health center patient Anna Arellano, who said community health centers were the key to helping her live a healthier life.

CHI Group I
(L to R) Summer Kirby, Jim Luisi, Erin Trapp, Eva Gitome

At the following general session, attendees were given the opportunity to hear from Erik Wahl, an internationally recognized graffiti artist and author. Wahl discussed how organizations who embrace creativity and “disruption” will flourish, while those who don’t make innovation a top priority will fall behind.

Individualized session topics included discussions on how to improve work flow to identify and address the socioeconomic needs of patients, either through in-house means or through referral sources. Another session focused on how to reduce dependency on grant funding should reductions to the federal budget be ratified. There was also a session on up-to-the-minute updates from Capitol Hill, with special emphasis on funding, Medicaid, telehealth and more.



(L to R) Eva Gitome, Summer Kirby, Jim Macrae (HRSA), Erin Trapp

One overarching theme of the convention has been the pressing reality of the upcoming FQHC fiscal cliff. If Congress does not act by September 30, 2017 community health centers stand to lose upwards of 70% of their funding. This funding is vital to ensuring community health centers can continue to deliver high quality, affordable health care to all members of the community, regardless of their ability to pay.

That’s why it’s imperative you sign up as an ADVOCATE TODAY, and tell your legislators that good health and FQHC funding is important to you.


Compass CEO: Behind the Scenes with Senator Bernie Sanders

By Summer Kirby, CEO Compass Community Health

On Tuesday, August 22, 2017, I was honored to receive an invitation to meet and speak with Senator Bernie Sanders who was invited to come here to hear about some of the issues we are facing together. Organizers worked hard to coordinate with the Senator’s staff, so that many representatives from our community would have a chance to speak.

After arriving at the Vern Riffe Center on the campus of Shawnee State University, and being introduced to the panelists, it was clear the atmosphere was filled with excitement. This event created an opportunity to hear real life experiences from real people that were there to advocate and educate on behalf of our community with one of our nationally elected, political leaders.

Each panelist shared their account of specific topics, including one father’s personal story of caring for a special needs child, another speaker was a behavioral health counselor who works with the addicted population, there was a union leader who talked about the value of work to a person’s self esteem and more. Senator Sanders embraced all of the speakers and topics, added his views, and opened up the discussion to those in the audience who also had a chance for their voice to be heard. I was asked to speak on the topic of Health care, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the opiate epidemic. Below is the text of the healthcare story I shared with my community that day.

#CompassCares #CompassAdvocates

Summer Toni Dengel close up

I am a native resident. After graduating from Notre Dame High School, I moved to Columbus and completed my undergraduate degree while working full-time as a college student. My husband and I came home to Scioto County from the Dayton area where I worked for Wells Fargo, and we had our first child. Now, our family and home is back here in Portsmouth. After spending 15+ years in the financial industry and volunteering in various organizations in our community, my path transitioned to Compass Community Health, a Federally Qualified Health Center, where we are bound by federal statute and our guiding mission to care for all patients, regardless of their insurance status.   

My understanding and perspectives have changed. 

Healthcare issues, specifically the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the opiate epidemic and substance abuse, are commonly misunderstood topics. The importance of these issues extend beyond party lines and impact all constituents, regardless of one’s education, upbringing or religion. Medicaid expansion was, is, and continues to be, a significantly positive impact in communities all across Ohio and the United States. While we may be at the center of the opiate epidemic, we are not unlike other communities across the nation.    

Medicaid expansion enables access to care for services like primary care, mental health, addiction treatment recovery and general healthcare needs. It is common practice to connect with individuals who have not been able to access these services for core health needs, some results included an inability to maintain employment, addiction, and overusing emergency rooms and urgent care facilities to serve as a primary care provider. In my daily work, I see improvements in health outcomes due to the ACA and the commitment to Medicaid expansion. 

Some highlights include:

  • 1,100 men, in their mid-twenties, were able to access treatment services with The Counseling Center, a 35+ year alcohol and drug treatment agency serving residents from many Ohio counties.
  • That same organization celebrated 245 births for recovery babies (born to mothers in recovery).
  • One provider speaks of his patient finding herself unemployed for the first time in her life as a result of the economic downturn. As a diabetic that lost her coverage, she found herself in the ER due to lack of access to medical needs.  She was able to regain access through Medicaid expansion and is now reporting her diabetes is controlled.
  • Employed individuals working in entry level positions also have access to healthcare through Medicaid expansion.    

Cost, economic impact and sustainability of the program are core components of this discussion. One of the points commonly overlooked is the economic engine this program creates.

  • Medicaid expansion enabled my organization to hire additional providers, expand care for primary, mental health and women’s health as well as supplemental clinical and support staff.
  • The organization previously noted, The Counseling Center, added 67 jobs equating to $2.3 million in additional payroll.

These are but a few examples of investments; dollars that support our economy, goods being purchased, individuals seeking higher education and overall enhancements to the good health of the community. 

Simply put, it’s a complex equation. The real impact for individuals with access to health care enables employment, healthier lifestyles and community support that is a positive health and economic driver.

Summer Toni Dengel far shot
Compass CEO Summer Kirby speaks to a capacity crowd that gathered to hear and share our community’s perspective on health care issues with Senator Bernie Sanders



Compass CEO One of Six Community Panelists Talks Real Life Healthcare Challenges

Watch the August 22, 2017 Bernie Sanders Town Hall Meeting held at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio. 

Portsmouth residents recently had the opportunity to conduct a town hall style discussion with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders at Shawnee State University. The event included a panel of community leaders who took the time to discuss important issues in our area. One such leader was Compass Community Health’s own Summer Kirby who highlighted the work of Federally Qualified Health Care Centers (FQHC), of which Senator Sanders is an avid supporter. Kirby explained to the capacity crowd how FQHC’s work as a safety net for the community’s most vulnerable by providing quality, affordable care to all, regardless of their ability to pay.

Sanders Podium

Summer Kirby detailed how the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and particularly Medicaid expansion, gave many Ohioans greater access to care, some for the first time in their lives. Kirby explained, for many expansion is a safeguard during times of difficulty or transition. She spoke of an unemployed woman who was unable to meet the costs of her diabetic prescriptions and supplies and couldn’t get in to regularly see her primary care provider. As a result, she sought medical attention only when it was critical to her survival and always via emergency care services. Thanks to Medicaid expansion coverage, she was able to afford to see her primary care provider regularly and regain control of her diabetes. Today, she is employed and has moved over to employer-sponsored health insurance coverage and routinely visits her primary care provider.

Bernie Large

In her remarks, Kirby discussed how affiliated behavioral health provider The Counseling Center has successfully assisted 1100 men in their mid-20s with addiction treatment and recovery since Medicaid expansion (prior to expansion, many low income adults ages 19-64 would not have qualified for the program). The Counseling Center’s Stepping Stone Program for addicted mothers has also seen 245 recovery babies for Scioto County and Ohio mothers, since they first started tracking the number in 2009.

Summer Podium
Photo Courtesy of Shawnee State University

Not only has Medicaid expansion given Ohioans greater access to care, it has also impacted communities economically. Since expansion in 2013, The Counseling Center has added 67 new jobs resulting in $2.3 million in payroll, much of which is cycled back into the local economy.

Historically, FQHC’s have received strong support from all sides of the political spectrum. However, Compass is always in need of voices from the community who will attest to the important work FQHC’s are doing, or how important a strong Medicaid program is to the health of the community. Sign up to be a health center and community advocate today!

#CompassCares #CompassAdvocates


Meet The Team

Meet Occupational Therapist Mikel Stone

Mikel Stone


For this week’s #LiveWellWednesday post we talked to Mikel Stone, Occupational Therapist.  Let’s get to know Mikel a little better and the services she provides at Compass.

Mikel, tell us about what made you want to become an Occupational Therapist.

Occupational therapy is a helping profession and that is what initially drew me in. I love that we are a holistic profession that focuses on the whole individual, helping them gain or return to optimal functioning. I originally began in the occupational therapy profession as an occupational therapy assistant in 1992. I loved the field and helping clients so much, that I returned to Shawnee State University to become an occupational therapist.

What do you enjoy most about working at Compass Pediatric OT?

I have had a long time love of treating pediatric patients! Since joining Compass, I am so pleased to see their commitment to the community, but my greatest joy is in serving clients and working with the wonderful staff at Compass. As well as the opportunity to work with the mothers and children of The Counseling Center’s Stepping Stone Program. 

What is most rewarding about working with children?

The most rewarding aspect of working with children is watching them progress and grow in the ability to perform the things that they need and want to do in a day, such as age appropriate self-care skills, participate more fully in social situations, or manage emotions, but the most rewarding is that we, as occupational therapy practitioners can use play with a purpose to develop those skills.

What challenges are families facing that Compass Pediatric OT can assist with?

Compass Pediatric OT can help families in a wide variety of ways, perhaps a family has a child that is having difficulty in meeting developmental milestones, such as age appropriate self-care, play, coordination or social-emotional development; evaluations can be performed to determine if a developmental problem exists, and can shed light onto why the child is experiencing delay. We then develop an individualized treatment plan with input from the parents to develop the most appropriate plan for the child.

What do you enjoy in your free time?

In my free time, I like to spend time with my husband, Larry and children, McKenzie, Lauren, and Parker, as well as my grand daughters, Laynie and Carver. I enjoy kayaking, fishing, and boating, anything outdoors actually, but family time is the best!

For more information about the Compass Pediatric Occupational Therapy Program please contact our office at 740-351-7102.

 #LiveWellWednesday                     #RealPeopleCompassionateCare              #CompassCares

Meet The Team

Meet Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant Cara Crisp

Cara Crisp

For this week’s #LiveWellWednesday post we talked to Cara Crisp, Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant.  Let’s get to know Cara a little better and the services she provides at Compass.

Cara, tell us about what made you want to become a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant.

I believe my passion was truly sparked when I began working as an assistant instructor for the Cirque D’ Art Theatre in 2005. Initially, I worked with mostly preschool age and also helped with a class offered for children with disabilities. I was captivated by the possibilities this program offered and how it empowered not only the students participating but everyone involved. From there, I was able to network with some wonderful people who worked at Vern Riffe School which led to the opportunity to work with our local Board of DD as a one-on-one aide. I was blessed to meet and work with various students and staff as well as offering some sign language support to those in need. Sadly, my time there ended in 2015 in order to pursue my degree in occupational therapy. I cherish the time I spent with these invaluable programs in our community and am honored to say I have been part of their teams. These organizations have helped shape who I am today and I owe my direction in life to the powerful experiences and opportunities I was afforded by being a part of them.

What do you enjoy most about working at Compass Pediatric OT?

Each day I am gifted the occasion to see the world through the eyes of a child. It is a daily perspective reset and I am reminded of what true joy is as well as the importance of celebrating the small things. Additionally, learning through play is so important for the development of all children and we sure do know how to have fun!

What is most rewarding about working with children?

I am continually in awe of our kids, how resilient, how giving, and how determined they are. We are truly blessed to be a part of their growth and in turn experience growth ourselves. It is most rewarding to see our kids grow in confidence of their abilities and witness the positive impact that makes on their lives and the lives of their families as a whole.

What challenges are families facing that Compass Pediatric OT can assist with?

I believe one of the most important services we can offer is to simply help our families know that they are not alone. Being a sounding board and haven of support in possibly some of the most challenging moments of their lives is the priority in addressing their needs.

What do you enjoy in your free time?

I am most happy when surrounded by family, friends, and nature. I enjoy spending time around a bonfire, playing cornhole, hunting/fishing, traveling, and going to concerts.

For more information about the Compass Pediatric Occupational Therapy Program please contact our office at 740-351-7102.

 #LiveWellWednesday                     #RealPeopleCompassionateCare              #CompassCares

Meet The Team

Meet Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant Alice Herles

Alice Herles head shot.jpg

For this week’s #LiveWellWednesday post we talked to Alice Herles, Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant.  Let’s get to know Alice a little better and the services she provides at Compass.

Alice, tell us about what made you want to become a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant.

“My son was born with Down Syndrome and participated in early intervention and occupational therapy.  I thought it was amazing to see my son thrive and become independent with so many self-help skills.  I worked at our county developmental disabilities (DD) program as a teacher’s assistant, and I realized I was working with students on their OT IEP goals without really knowing ‘the why’s’ of OT.  I applied to the OTA program at SSU in 2007, because I wanted to help other kids reach their full potential and independence.”

What do you enjoy most about working at Compass Pediatric OT?

“I like working with our families and helping their children with challenges that they face on a daily basis.  It’s a great feeling to know that you’ve helped increase independence and develop skills.  Our OT gym is a much needed service in our community.”

What is most rewarding about working with children?

“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the smile on a kid’s face after they have accomplished something independently, for the first time.  Knowing that you’ve helped them achieve something they’ve worked so hard for is a wonderful feeling.”

What challenges are families facing that Compass Pediatric OT can assist with?

“Families are often overwhelmed when their child is diagnosed with learning disabilities- Autism, ADD, fine and gross motor skills or Sensory Processing Disorder.  We want these families to know that there is a place, here in their local community, that specializes in sensory integration and incorporating fun with treatment, and it’s a place that involves the parents in their child’s treatment plan, which can be carried over into the child’s school and/or home environment.”

What do you enjoy in your free time?

“I love spending time with my family and friends, reading, going to concerts, and shopping.  I also enjoy supporting our Scioto County Special Olympics and our County Board of Developmental Disabilities.”

For more information about the Compass Pediatric Occupational Therapy Program please contact our office at 740-351-7102.

 #LiveWellWednesday                     #RealPeopleCompassionateCare              #CompassCares

Meet The Team

Meet the New Director of Occupational Therapy Brian Stephenson

Brian headshot.jpg

Brian Stephenson is the new Director of Occupational Therapy at Compass Community Health Care Center. He holds his Masters in Occupational Therapy and a Bachelors of Science from Shawnee State University. As a graduate of Wheelersburg High School with many local ties, Brian is committed to helping his community.

For this week’s #LiveWellWednesday, let’s get to know Brian a little better and learn about his plan for the Compass Occupational Therapy Program.

Brian, tell us a little about why you decided to become an occupational therapist.

“From a very early age, I have always been interested in helping others, and caring for others.  Being an occupational therapist gives me that opportunity to assist in the growth and development in an individual’s daily life.  Being able to develop relationships with individuals, and collaborating with them to develop skills and become more independent is a very enjoyable and rewarding part of being an occupational therapist.”

What are your plans for the program?

“I look forward to helping this program grow from what it has already become, which is a staple in the community in an effort to assist children and their families live and lead more independent lifestyles, despite any difficulties they may face.  A very good team is already in place, and I believe that this program can grow and spread to other areas as well, in hopes to reach out to a variety of individuals who may need services.  Continued growth and development of the program, while providing top-level care and education to our families is a primary goal for the future.”

What do you feel is most rewarding about interacting with children?

“There are numerous instances in which interacting with children can be rewarding.  Simply being in the presence of these children, and being able to witness their joy of daily life can be very contagious.  Participating in therapeutic activities with children is rewarding in itself, but seeing a child smile after they accomplish something for the first time, independently, and knowing that you played a part in that, there is no greater reward.”

What are some challenges that families are facing that the Compass Pediatric OT program can help with?

“Compass Pediatric OT can assist families in a variety of ways.  Many of our families may face hardships in daily life when assisting children with developmental disabilities.  With help from out staff, we hope to assist these families in finding ways to promote independence and improve quality of life for the entire family.  Whether it may be strategies to assist children in daily tasks that involve improving gross and fine motor skills, or increasing interaction and communication, our staff can provide the necessary assistance for both the child and the family.”

“Our families may also have children that experience sensory processing difficulties, which, at times can be very difficult to understand and also address.  Not only do we strve to help address the needs of the child by providing sensory strategies, but we also focus on educating the families about therapeutic activites and home programs to assist with their needs.”

For more information about the Compass Pediatric Occupational Therapy Program please contact our office at 740-351-7102.

#LiveWellWednesday                     #RealPeopleCompassionateCare              #CompassCares