Saturday, June 23, 2018
News Roundup

Coptic Orthodox Diocese plans substance abuse treatment facility near Brooksville

BROOKSVILLE — A new option for substance abuse treatment may soon be available in Hernando County, one offering extended rehabilitation with a Christian focus.

The Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday will hear an application from the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States for a special exception allowing a substance abuse rehabilitation facility and church on property off U.S. 98, north of Brooksville.

The center is proposed for a 9.6-acre site owned by Baycare Behavioral Health and previously operated as a mental health facility. The site is on Youth Drive, between the Florida Highway Patrol and clerk of the circuit court's driver's license office and the Pasco-Hernando State College North Campus. The diocese has an option to purchase the property if the permit is approved.

The diocese has been looking for a site for more than a year and is excited about this location because it is quiet and accessible, said Dr. William Assad, who oversees medical services in facilities run by the diocese in the bay area.

"This is something new for the diocese,'' Assad said. "We've been referring people to other places, but we found out that the outcome is very dismal.''

Assad said the diocese looked at options and found that a program that lasted longer than the standard 28 days paid by insurance would be more effective. So are programs focused on integrating a person's faith into treatment.

"We believe in modern medicine, but we also believe in the intervention of God and His healing,'' Assad said.

The 7,922-square-foot facility near Brooksville was built in 1980, and there are 49 paved parking spaces, according to the application. The diocese plans to remodel the structure to accommodate the center.

Both inpatient and outpatient services will be available, and there will be about five staff members at the facility.

"The intended use of the property is almost entirely substance abuse and treatment,'' according to an addendum to the application filed last week. "There will be a small chapel, similar to that located in a typical hospital, to accommodate a maximum of 30 people (inpatients).

"There will not be a regular congregation with scheduled church services.''

The center will operate 24 hours a day. No estimate was available on the number of outpatients who might receive services.

The Coptic Orthodox Church is the largest Christian church in Egypt. It is theologically similar to Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. There are several Coptic Orthodox churches in the Tampa Bay area.

Contact Barbara Behrendt at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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