This article appeared in the May 2017 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
A young man entered through the doors of One Door Polk in need of services from the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ)—what he received was an alarming diagnosis of previously undiscovered diabetes. The outcome of his visit is a prime example of why One Door Polk was established in Cedartown.
“What we had before the creation of One Door Polk was several great social service and medical organizations, but they were scattered around the city and the county,” said Cedartown City Manager Bill Fann. “Folks in need of these services, many with transportation issues, had a difficult time navigating from one place to the next. In addition, each agency housed in One Door Polk is familiar with the other organizations’ services, which creates an environment for warm handoffs and personalized care.”
Entrance to One Door Polk.
That is certainly true for the young man who visited the DJJ office inside the complex in late March. According to Juvenile Probation/Parole Specialist Courtney McGinnis, the young man, who had recently worked to improve his life, visited the center with concerning symptoms.
After discovering the teen and his family did not have a primary care doctor, McGinnis walked the young man and his mother to the Primary Healthcare Center. Primary Healthcare is located in the One Door Polk complex. This center caters to residents of all income levels—those with and without insurance—with a sliding pay scale. Here the teen was diagnosed, treated and provided ways to manage his disease.
Cedartown Plans for the Wellness Complex
One Door Polk was established in the former Polk Medical Center hospital building, after the medical center moved to a newly constructed facility in November 2014. Cedartown city officials worked diligently to find tenants for the new complex—all of the belief that abandoned buildings did not belong in the city’s downtown.
In December 2013, well before the building was vacated by the hospital, the city commission voted to approve a conditional hospital reuse plan and become owners of the building and property.
Cedartown Assistant City Clerk Edward Guzman helps children with one of the activities offered at the recent One Door Polk block party.
“This project fulfills that request in a magnificent fashion that has never been done before,” explained Fann. “Tenants lease space in the building and that covers the monthly costs associated with the building.” The city has a specially assigned employee that oversees daily maintenance as well.
The DJJ and Primary Healthcare Centers are just two of the organizations that reside under the One Door Polk roof. Located in the center of town, it’s also home to Polk Family Connection, Highland Rivers Health Outpatient Services and Developmental Disabilities Division, Right from the Start Medical Assistance, Polk County Foster Parents Association, Children in Need of Services, Court Appointed Special Advocates, the Area Agency on Aging and an administrative office for Our House, Polk County’s Battered and Abused Women’s Shelter.
The complex continues to grab the attention of local and state leaders with several Georgia Department of Community Affairs and Appalachian Regional Commission representatives visiting.
“One Door Polk is a great example of the collaboration of federal, state and local partners to build community capacity and a better quality of life for the citizens of Polk County,” said Brittany Pittman, program manager for the Appalachian Regional Commission. “The Appalachian Regional Commission remains committed to investing in communities to expand access to health care.”
One Door Polk continues to build relationships in the community. On March 31, a community block party was hosted in the facility’s parking lot. The event featured literacy activities, face painting and selfie stations, bean bag toss, prizes and of course, information relating to the services offered by One Door Polk.
“This is a network of high quality, easily accessible treatment, education and support services. Though well-planned, this was a leap of faith undertaking and has been a true team effort since the beginning,” Fann said. “We hope that other cities and counties will take into consideration what a difference that easily accessible, easily navigable social service offerings can make in their community’s overall health and happiness.”