Polk Fit, Fresh & Friendly: When we all work together

Published 9:57 am Friday, October 30, 2015

Polk Fit, Fresh and Friendly (PF3) is a group of 80+ community members, community leaders and health professionals, all working together to plan and implement effective strategies to promote wellness in our community. Since our inception, we have recognized the critical role access to health care plays in supporting wellness for everyone in Polk County.

You may have seen in the newspaper or heard by now that a large grant has been awarded to strengthen and sustain Polk County’s health care safety net for years to come.  This is no small accomplishment. It took a yearlong effort by PF3 and Polk County leaders, including Polk County government, to make it happen. Truly, we should celebrate what can be accomplished when we all work together!

Allow me to tell you the story. In the summer of 2014, Polk County leaders and Polk Wellness Center (PWC) reached out to Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS) to ask how Blue Ridge might provide sustainability to Polk Wellness Center’s mission of providing integrated medical and behavioral health care to all in Polk County.

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Saluda Medical Center had closed a month before and PWC was struggling to remain open. Over the next couple of months, BRCHS met with Polk leaders and the PF3 board to develop a plan, leading to BRCHS submitting an application in October, 2014 for a New Access Point in Polk County.

As part of the application, PWC asked BRCHS to assume their operations and open the new location where PWC is located in Columbus Commons above Larkin’s Carolina Grill in Columbus. After a yearlong wait and letters to our senators and congressman, the grant funding was awarded, meaning an annual grant to support medical, dental, behavioral health, and pharmacy services for as long as services continue in Polk County.

Today, Blue Ridge is working hard to meet the Dec. 1 deadline to open and Polk Wellness is working hard to make the transition to closure a smooth one. Everyone’s top priority is for PWC patients to receive uninterrupted care and for us all to spread the word that from Sunny View to Green Creek, from Tryon to Saluda, whether you have insurance or not, there is a Health Center in Columbus opening soon designed to meet your needs, turning no one away for inability to pay, and taking care of the whole you.

For more information, please visit www.brchs.com or email info@brchs.com.

PF3 invites you to get involved. To join PF3, our sole membership requirement is an interest in promoting wellness in Polk County. Our next general meeting is scheduled for noon, Thursday Nov. 12 in the Community Room of the Polk County Library. Please join us!

– Submitted by Milton Bitterworth