The clinic, located at 508 N. Main St., Cedartown, was opened to serve under-insured and uninsured Polk County residents living under 250 percent of poverty.
“We wish we had the necessary funding to continue operating the center,” said Polk County Health Department nurse Manager Malindy Ely. “It has benefited the health of individual Polk County citizens as well as the community at large.”
During three years of operation, the clinic has served 1,344 clients in 4,464 visits. According to Ely, the primary diagnoses have been diabetes and hypertension.
The original grant-funding period ended on April 30, 2012, but, according to Ely, “Harbin Clinic, Redmond Regional Medical Center and Floyd Medical Center made contributions in order for the clinic to remain open for an additional seven months, and we thank those wonderful organizations for their support.”
While announcing the Primary Care Center’s closing and documenting the need for the services it provided in the community, Ely also voiced cautious optimism about the possibility of establishing another federally funded primary care center in Polk County to serve the healthcare needs of the same underserved segment of the community.
“For years,” Ely said, “we’ve been trying to establish a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in Polk County. The Polk Primary Care Center was a big step in that direction.”
An FQHC, according to Ely, provides comprehensive, culturally competent, top-quality primary health care services to medically underserved communities and vulnerable populations.
“These types of health centers are community-based and patient-directed organizations that serve populations with limited access to health care,” Ely said.
According to Ely, the Polk County Health Department, in collaboration with Northwest Georgia Public Health, Floyd Medical Center, Harbin Clinic, Polk Family Connections, Dade Primary Care Center and the Georgia Primary Care Association, has completed work on a FQHC Planning Grant with hope that a grant opportunity will be released soon.
“Such a grant would provide the ongoing funding necessary to make a local primary health center sustainable in Polk County, and when the grant opportunity arises, we’ll be prepared to apply for it immediately.”