Cedartown announces re-use plans for old Polk Medical Center

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One Door Polk

One Door Polk Network partners (from left): Jason Beardon, CEO, Highland Rivers; Sandy Matheson, community liaison, Primary Healthcare Centers; Kathleen Varda, director of Strategy and Business Development, Highland Rivers; Bill Fann, Cedartown city manager; Diana Allen, CEO, Primary Healthcare Centers; and Rhonda Heuer, executive director, Polk Family Connection

The City of Cedartown is positioned to become a model throughout Georgia and the nation regarding resourceful combination of key social and health services through the creation of a landmark concept called “One Door Polk Network.”

One Door Polk, established by the City of Cedartown, in collaboration with Floyd Medical Center, Primary Healthcare Centers, Polk Family Connection, Cedartown-Polk County Hospital Authority and Highland Rivers Health, is poised to offer a full spectrum of social services under one roof in the heart of downtown Cedartown.

Planned for location at 424 North Main Street in Cedartown, One Door Polk will occupy the building that will be left vacant by the county’s current hospital, Polk Medical Center. The hospital is slated to move to its new location on US Hwy. 278 in the fall of 2014.

The One Door Polk Network, slated to begin full operation in the spring of 2015, will bring more than 75 employment positions into the downtown Cedartown area.

According to data research, it is anticipated that at least 5,500 individuals will be served in the first full year of operation and will increase as service coordination expands.

Expected outcomes as a result of the One Door Polk Network include reduced visits to the emergency room, increased health and wellness to the community, new business development for the city, increased collaboration among service providers and reduced duplication of services.

Additionally, Polk County officials have recently expressed interested in the possible renovation of the facility’s basement as an operational hub for E911 communications and an emergency command center.

Cedartown City officials were proactive in finding new tenants for the building — having a vacant and abandoned building in the heart of downtown was not an option. In December 2013, the city commission voted to approve a conditional hospital reuse plan.

“The original request of the City Commission was that this facility not be left vacant or be torn down, leaving a hole in the economic center of the City. This project fulfills that request in a magnificent fashion that has never been done before,” said Cedartown City Manager Bill Fann.

The City of Cedartown, along with Floyd Medical Center, Primary Healthcare Centers, Polk Family Connection and Highland Rivers Health make up the members of the One Door Polk Network. That network was created more than one year ago with its focus being the re-adaptive use of the soon-to-be vacant building.

Desiring more than just tenants, the network decided to repurpose the building to serve as a social services hub which promotes the health, wellness and economic growth of the City of Cedartown and Polk County as a whole.

“This is one of the most amazing projects I’ve been involved with in my 30 plus years in municipal government,” Fann said. “To have the opportunity to place healthcare, social services, education, emergency services and economic development aspects under one roof in the center of this City is an unbelievable collaborative effort by folks who truly care about our community.”

Currently, the plan calls for Highland Rivers Health and Primary Healthcare to become the two anchor services for the 60,000 square-foot facility.

Highland Rivers Health will relocate all of its community-based services to the One Door Polk facility, including substance abuse intensive outpatient program services, primary behavioral health care services (which include psychiatrists, nurses and licensed individual and group therapy staff), case management services and peer-led day programming.

In addition, Highland Rivers’ full array of services and a training center for developmentally disabled individuals will be integrated into the One Door Polk Network. Highland Rivers will occupy approximately 60 percent of the facility.

“We are very excited that Highland Rivers Health is part of the innovative and collaborative relationship that will lead to improved health and wellness of the Cedartown and Polk community,” said Jason Bearden, Chief Executive Officer of Highland Rivers.

“The City of Cedartown and the Polk Family Connection provided leadership and vision to help make the One Door Polk Network a reality. It is a unique system that will serve as both an economic engine for the City and an integrated whole health approach to preventative care and wellness.

“Bringing together all the various aspects of primary and behavioral health care in one warm and welcoming location will enable many more of our citizens to lead lives of community enrichment and individual satisfaction.”

Primary Healthcare Centers, already up and running in the medical office building behind Polk Medical Center, began offering services in January 2014. The Cedartown HON Company donated the office furniture used in equipping Primary Healthcare’s offices and waiting room. HON has committed to donating furniture needed to outfit all offices, conference rooms and waiting areas in the One Door Polk Network.

Primary Healthcare offers adult medical care, including physical exams, acute care visits, women’s health, diabetes/hypertension and chronic disease management. Infant and children’s services are also offered and include well-child check-ups, speech, hearing and vision screens and sports physicals. Employee services offered include physicals, worker’s comp annual check-ups and on-site flu vaccinations.

Primary Healthcare Centers will continue to expand their medical services as well as bring dental services into a community that has the largest admissions into the emergency room in Georgia due to medical problems stemming from lack of dental care.

“Adding primary care services to the One Door Polk Network allows us to provide a whole-health focus which is so important for successful outcomes to people in all facets of their lives,” said Sandy Matheson, Primary Healthcare Community Liaison.

“People receiving services through the One Door Polk Network will have integrated patient-centered care available, along with behavior services and primary healthcare services. People receiving services often experience health disparities related to access, awareness, preventable services and even certain stigma. The One Door Polk Network will overcome many of the issues through this one-point access for all types of needed care. The healthcare services being offered by Primary Healthcare Centers is a critical component of improving the health of our patients.”

In addition to the two anchor services, more than one dozen social service entities will also relocate to One Door Polk. These partners will provide employment and education services, child, youth and family support/reunification services, food, clothing and housing resource services along with volunteer and community services.

Polk Family Conection, a local organization and part of a state-wide initiative that cultivates public and private collaboration at the local level, will bring together strategic partners to provide these additional social services, including a community resource library and thrift store.

During the 18 years that Polk Family Connection has been in this community, more than $3.5 million in grants have been leveraged by partners for the benefit of families in Polk County. Initiatives have included parenting support, drug prevention and community awareness efforts, injury prevention programs, and family and early childhood literacy efforts. These initiatives have been made available by funding awarded through the collaborative efforts of the Polk Family Connection and its partners across the county.

One Door Polk will also house a business incubator dedicated to bolstering economic development by providing office space for budding entrepreneurs. The City of Cedartown, in partnership with the Polk County Chamber of Commerce, will provide 12-month support and guidance for business startups that aim to revitalize the downtown area.

Those who have worked on the One Door plan say the availability and combination of these key services sets this project apart from any other they’ve seen.

“The individual organizations believe that partnership in one location will promote access to preventative services, reduce duplication of services, increase an individual’s success in maintaining healthy decisions and completing treatment goals,” said Kathleen Varda, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Highland Rivers Health.

“Combining into a central location will also improve communications and care coordination between the multiple service providers providing services to the same individuals, and improve service engagement of the target population.”

At this present time, the Cedartown-Polk County Hospital Authority owns the facility. After the transition of the current hospital is completed into its new location, the Cedartown-Polk Hospital Authority will request to transfer ownership and title of the property to the City of Cedartown.

The City will provide property management reflective of the monthly costs based on use of square footage, with cost based on a negotiated property rate for maintenance and grounds upkeep that will be determined prior to formal lease agreements.

The hospital authority will also transfer $420,000 into a capital account to fund ongoing operational needs of the facility. Estimated cost for utilities and facility oversight will have an annual cost of $130,000 which will be funded through tenant lease payments.

Highland Rivers Health and Primary Healthcare Centers will enter in to a 10-year agreement with the City of Cedartown.

Additional service providers and nonprofits will be chosen for acceptance into the One Door Polk Network upon completion and review of a proposal and separate lease agreement. The review panel will be comprised of City officials, Primary Healthcare Centers, Highland Rivers and the Polk Family Connection.

“We look forward to the multi-faceted approach to services to help families become physically, mentally and economically stable. This model  will enable partners to work together — under one roof — with other community organizations to provide supports for families by improving access to services and allow community organizations to come together as a team to break down barriers and bring the strongest and best services to our families in Polk County,” said Rhonda Heuer, Polk Family Connection Executive Director.  

“We cannot fully express our appreciation to the City of Cedartown and the City Commissioners for their vision and willingness to serve as the leadership in this project.  One Door Polk will change the face of service provision and serve as a model across the nation.  This truly epitomizes the ideals of Polk Family Connection — that a community can only thrive when its children are healthy and succeed in school, and when their families are stable and self-sufficient.”

Read the story on northwestgeorgianews.com.

Georgia Family Connection is a statewide network with a Collaborative in all 159 counties.