The county home

New demands may mean officials add to uses for site

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times Holly Orders, a staff member at the Washington County Home, checks the activity board in one of the building's hallways.

The Washington County Home is a serene, stately Georgian brick building in the placid setting of a 270-acre working farm just outside Marietta.

It is, administrator Jeff Campbell says, one of the best kept secrets in the county.

Originally built in 1976, it is the latest episode in a long history of care the county provides for its less fortunate residents.

“There’s always been a county home here,” Campbell said. “The concept predates the Civil War.”

The next chapter for the home might be unfolding as county officials consider an unmet need for the county and unused space at the home.

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times Feed for livestock sits in a tower next to one of the barns on the grounds of the Washington County Home. The home is a working farm, with livestock, crops, vegetables, orchards, a maple syrup processing shed and beehives spread over 270 acres.

The County Home has been underused for some time, and now is home to 48 residents. The home, built on four levels, can accommodate up to 90.

“I’m sure it was full when it was first built,” Campbell said, but demand for residency there has declined over the years despite the admissions policy – those who want to live there need only be over the age of 18 and a resident of Washington County for at least six months.

The possibility of using vacant space in the home to meet the need for detoxification or residential rehabilitation has been discussed for several years, Washington County Commissioner David White said.

“I believe there has been an approach, Oriana is looking at it, the possibility is that we would lease some space to them,” he said.

Oriana, a health services organization with programs and facilities in several Ohio communities, now operates a residential facility for court-ordered drug addiction treatment in Reno. The house opened earlier this year, but the space and programs still have not fully met the county’s needs for addiction treatment.

Jason Varney, vice president of correctional programs for Oriana, said Tuesday his organization is looking at the feasibility of setting up a program at the county home but the proposal is still in early stages.

“We were approached to consider a residential, subacute detox in Washington County,” he said. “Right now we’re kind of in the exploratory phase, putting together project figures about cost, what can be paid through insurance such as Medicaid, kicking around numbers to see if it’s a feasible project.

“We’ve had some preliminary conversations about the county home … You want to make sure you have the right space to do it in, and we think that’s a great location.”

Oriana, he said, has a residential detox facility in Summit County and has experience with that sort of operation, he said.

“If it’s decided to move forward, Washington County would add a very significant piece to its continuum of services, providing people with a safe place to recover,” he said.

Campbell said he could conditionally support such a development, but his primary concern is for the people already living in the spacious rural home.

“A lot depends on what kind of program they have in mind. We want to be involved when the time comes and we are supportive – we clearly have issues in the community about opiates, and we’ve got room here – but it needs to be a totally separate facility with a separate entrance,” he said.

Provided the required physical changes to the building are done to prevent mixing of what would be two very different groups of people, Campbell said, the detox could be a rental arrangement which could provide some revenue for the county.

“We have talked to Oriana, and we have a good working relationship,” he said.

“If this does come to fruition,” Varney said, “we would segregate this operation. It would be completely separate, no mixing of populations or services, which is something very important to the county and to the county home administration.”

Campbell said the proposal in one way continues the home’s mission.

“The citizens of this county have always been supportive of those who are less fortunate,” he said.

At a glance

The County Home, Washington County

≤ Built: 1976.

≤ Capacity: 90 residents.

≤ Current occupants: 48.

≤ Size of property: 270 acres.

≤ Agriculture: Corn, hay, apples, vegetables, hogs, beef, maple syrup, honey.

≤ Other use being considered: Residential detox and rehab.