One Door Polk Continuing to Serve Community in Pandemic

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By Jeremy Stewart
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Cedartown’s One Door Polk facility brings several social services under one roof.

Ask Rhonda Heuer about One Door Polk before COVID-19 gripped the country and she will describe it as a “beehive of activity.”

Fast forward to today, however, and one word comes to mind for Heuer — lonesome.

“Now it’s very quiet. We actually keep the doors locked and many of our agencies do work from home,” Heuer said. “We have bells at the doors so we can keep tabs on who comes in and screen them.”

Heuer is the executive director of Polk Family Connection and a liaison for One Door Polk, a facility in Cedartown that serves as a “social services hub” offering mental health, healthcare and a wide array of social services all under one roof.

Housed in the former home of Polk Medical Center on North Main Street, One Door Polk includes Heuer’s office as well as other “anchor” tenants Primary Healthcare Center and Highland Rivers Health.

“We’re still doing the work, but just like everyone else we’re doing it in a different way than we did before with less face-to-face contact,” Heuer said.

One Door Polk was the first facility of its kind in the state, with the Georgia Family Connection and the city of Cedartown working together to make it a reality. It opened in November of 2016 with eight partners, including the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Polk County Foster Parents Association and the Area Council on Aging.

Georgia’s network of Family Connection collaboratives brings community partners together to develop, implement, and evaluate plans that address the serious challenges facing children and families.

With Heuer working with around 50 partners, Polk Family Connection tries to meet the needs of the county by sharing resources among them and not duplicating services. It’s the same principle as One Door Polk, Heuer explained.

Heuer said hope was to have all of the agencies in one building that a family would need to access.

“The reality is a lot of agencies have their own building and systems, so we offer satellite offices to some agencies that don’t need a full-time office, and what we don’t provide directly we are able to refer people to,” Heuer said.

Polk Family Connection’s Rhonda Heuer leads visitors through One Door Polk during a tour for the Appalachian Regional Commission and Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs in 2018.

Heuer is grateful to former Cedartown City Manager Bill Fann and City Commissioner Dale Tuck who saw the vision they had for the former hospital facility and spearheaded the decision by the city to serve as the fiscal agent for the center.

“I don’t know what would have happened to that building had they not decided to do that, but we had gone to other cities who did not share in our vision,” Heuer said at a recent meeting of the Cedartown City Commission.

“They’ve been great partners,” Heuer said recently, adding that newly named city manager Edward Guzman continues to help out in any way possible.

Now with 14 agencies occupying offices in the center, One Door Polk is continuing to try and find ways to make navigating social services easier for local residents.

One way that is in a state of development is a main website that will connect all of the agencies that are housed inside the center to one another and allow for easy searches to determine what agency is responsible for specific services.

Another is the creation of a centralized phone line for the center that the public can call and be presented with a menu to determine which agency to contact. They are also working with the city to have their services listed as part of its new My 30125 phone app.

“To me, again, it shows the value that they have for One Door Polk,” Heuer said. “We’re a little different from other city departments, but these things show they continue to realize our importance in the community.”

Read the story from the Polk Standard Journal.