NORTH ADAMS – State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) and State Representative Gailanne M. Cariddi (D- North Adams) announced today that the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC) has awarded Berkshire Medical Center a total of $3,000,000 to enhance the delivery of high quality health care in northern Berkshire County.
This $3 million investment will support the development of a "Patient Centered Medical Neighborhood" as well as enhance behavioral health care for the northern Berkshire region. These initiatives will be aligned with the findings of the Stroudwater needs assessment, an independent report commissioned by the state Department of Public Health, Office of Rural Health after the unexpected closure of North Adams Regional Hospital. The Stroudwater report, released publicly in September, detailed the health care market needs of northern Berkshire County.
“Governor Patrick, the Office of Health and Human Services and our Berkshire legislative delegation have taken a leadership role in helping Berkshire Health Systems to restore and expand healthcare services in Northern Berkshire, and on behalf of BHS and our Board of Trustees, I want to thank them for their tremendous support of the north Berkshire community and our work to better meet the community’s healthcare needs,” said David Phelps, President and CEO of Berkshire Health Systems. “This grant, when coupled with significant additional financial contributions from us, will enable BHS to provide essential primary care, preventive health and behavioral health services in northern Berkshire. Using a virtual Patient Centered Medical Neighborhood concept, we can effectively and efficiently coordinate the efforts of individual consumers, local and regional healthcare providers and community service agencies in pursuing health and wellness and disease management strategies and provide improved access to behavioral health services through telemedicine tools and integration of behavioral health services with primary care practices.”
“This investment will continue our efforts to expand and improve health services in the northern Berkshires,” said Downing. “Working in partnership the Patrick Administration, Berkshire Health Systems, local and community leaders are committed to ensuring access to care, especially mental health and substance abuse services. I am thrilled our efforts have received this support and look forward to ensuring its benefits are felt throughout the region.”
The HPC, an independent state agency created in 2012 through the Legislature’s landmark health care cost containment law, approved $60 million in investments to 28 Massachusetts’s community hospitals through Phase 2 of the Community Hospital Acceleration, Revitalization, and Transformation (CHART) Investment Program. A complete listing of awards is located here.
"This CHART grant investment in our north Berkshire region's health care system will assist to build the needed integration and information exchange and other services necessary in forming a solid foundation for health services that was discussed in the Stroudwater needs assessment,” said Cariddi. “It is another step in the right direction that will bring enhanced and restored health care that we need in our region."
The purpose of CHART is to help reduce health care costs in the Commonwealth by strengthening low-cost, high-quality community hospitals while enhancing care delivery models that improve population health and patients’ experiences. CHART Phase 2 will better align community hospital services and capabilities with the health care needs of the communities they serve. Participation will foster strong community engagement across the care continuum, including the development of community partnerships with a broad array of health and human services agencies.
Over four years, CHART will disperse up to $120 million for community-oriented projects led by Massachusetts community hospitals. The Phase 2 Request for Proposals (RFP) called for innovative, high-impact proposals that enhance behavioral health care, focus on care for patients with complex medical and social needs, reduce inappropriate hospital use, and support processes that reduce waste while improving safety. Phase 2 incentivizes regional partnerships among hospitals and encourages hospitals to coordinate with community-based providers and other organizations. In total, five joint hospital proposals were funded totaling $19.1 million of the $60 million opportunity.
“Massachusetts community hospitals are high quality, cost-efficient providers of health care that serve patients where they live,” said Executive Director David Seltz. “Today’s awards show that the HPC is committed to partnering with Senator Downing, Representative Cariddi and Berkshire Medical Center to help the Commonwealth achieve our goals of health care cost containment and quality improvement.”
Over the next six months, the HPC will support and monitor the implementation activities of CHART hospitals. Comprehensive evaluation and accountability are strong elements of the CHART Investment Program in order to assess these new initiatives’ impacts on health care cost and quality. This engagement will strengthen future phases of the CHART Program. In January 2014, Phase 1 of the CHART Investment Program released $10 million to community hospitals for projects ranging from patient care pilots for diabetes treatment to behavioral health integration programs.