Polk’s health department open 

Published 10:02 am Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Transition is going smoothly 


COLUMBUS—Polk County is now operating its own health department.  

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Polk County began all operations on July 1 after breaking off from the Rutherford Polk McDowell Health District.  

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met last week and heard from Consolidated Human Services Director Joshua Kennedy.  

Kennedy updated commissioners on the transition process and employees spent a good bit of time de-cluttering the health department building. He thanked IT, maintenance and human services employees for all their work.  

Environmental services began being run by Polk County Government in June and all other services began July 1, the beginning of the county’s fiscal year. The county has hired two inspectors to do inspections such as for well and septic.  

Some duties of the health department are being done by Blue Ridge Health, according to county manager Marche Pittman. Most of the testing is being done by Blue Ridge Health, located in Columbus. There are employees working at the health department building for some services. Polk County’s health department building is located on Walker Street in Columbus. Blue Ridge Health will be occupying the county’s health department building mid-August, Pittman said.  

Kennedy praised the staff of the new health department, saying he thinks the county has “the best of the best.”  

Commissioner Ray Gasperson asked how much carry over the county has on septic and well permits. One of the reasons Polk County decided to break off from RPM was because of a lag in permits. Kennedy said RPM is trying to clear out their cue of permits and he will let commissioners know.  

Gasperson, who served on the RPM Health District Board, said Polk County was the smallest of the three counties.  

“I think we sometimes got lost in the shuffle,” Gasperson said. “We are going to be focused on Polk.”