We just signed a contract with Diane Hall to purchase 40 acres of Bridle Ridge Acres, the Hillsboro Property which has been known by most people as the Hall Farm. On Friday, January 20, 2012 board president Mark Mertens, COMTREA President/CEO Stephen Huss, and Diane Hall met on site to complete the contract. Mrs. Hall noted that, “In addition to the good services that are provided by COMTREA, the home and site will be preserved for future generations.”
“The picturesque setting will remain unchanged for the most part. The house, barns, pond and horse rinks will all stay exactly as they are. This site is an important part of the Hillsboro landscape and should remain so,” Huss said.
“This purchase is the first step in our plan to create an integrated health care center campus for Jefferson County in the county seat,” Mertens added.
Huss noted that COMTREA’s mission involves the provision of a social services safety net for the county. The agency provides a broad array of safety net services including: a domestic violence shelter, forensic sexual abuse evaluation for children, comprehensive community mental health services, psychiatric nursing home care, substance abuse treatment for adults and children, psychiatric medical care, children’s behavioral health evaluation and therapy, family counseling, crisis response, court ordered counseling, parental children safe-exchange oversight, and community education.
One of the first service expansions resultant from the purchase will be the introduction of equine therapy to current clients, autistic children, and selected new populations. “Equine therapy has been proven to be very effective in the treatment of autistic children,” Huss said, noting the increase in families with autistic children seeking treatment at COMTREA. He said that COMTREA will also begin to use equine therapy with children who have substance abuse or behavioral health disorders. “Anecdotal information indicates that it might be helpful with these kids too,” Huss elaborated. The agency will also consider using it with other issues and other age groups. The organization expects to use donated horses.
In addition to these programs COMTREA will be able to expand in other ways. “Eventually we hope to have an urgent care physical and behavioral health care integrated system on the site.” Huss has had conversations with two hospitals who have expressed interest in the location. COMTREA has already introduced the “Health Care Home” service to over 400 of its current clients. In this program nurses help COMTREA clients deal with their physical health care needs while counselors, psychiatrists, and community support workers deal with mental, behavioral or substance abuse issues.
“This site gives us the flexibility to grow in ways we may not be able to see now. If COMTREA is designated a Federally Qualified Health Center we will also be in line to apply for $3,000,000 in construction grants. We have reason to believe that this may happen soon,” Huss said. “We hope to develop a professional building which could house physicians, therapists, dentists, vision care, and other healthcare related professionals.”
“We also want to open the site up to the county and are exploring ways to make that happen,” Huss noted. The site could be used for education, fund raising, and innovative treatment programming. COMTREA sees this as a destination site and not just something beautiful to look at driving past.
Dr. Stephen F. Huss