News Briefs: Fairview receives grant to develop rural network; Baker-Polito administration awards $10.2 million for transportation options for seniors, paratransit customers

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By Friday, Jul 7 News
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, center, joined State Rep. William 'Smitty' Pignatelli, right, and Fairview Hospital officials Thursday to announce a $99,871 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At far left is hospital president Gene Dellea.

Fairview Hospital receives grant to develop rural network

Great Barrington — Rep. Richard E. Neal joined Fairview Hospital leaders and staff on Thursday, July 6 at Fairview Hospital to announce a $99,871 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant Program.

The purpose of the program is to assist in the development of an integrated healthcare network, specifically in communities where such programs have never previously existed. The program promotes the planning and development of healthcare networks in order to achieve efficiencies; expand access to, coordinate and improve the quality of essential health care services; and strengthen the rural health care system as a whole. After one year, the collaboration will seek additional federal and state funding opportunities to implement the strategic plan outlined in the grant.

“Rural communities face particular challenges in organizing and delivering high quality care,” said Neal. “One of the little-known benefits of the Affordable Care Act has been new funding and initiatives to improve care coordination and better align incentives to promote high quality health care. While in Massachusetts strides have been made to work with providers like hospitals and physicians to deliver better care to our rural areas, there is still a clear need to bridge the divide between access and care. This grant provides critical funds to Fairview Hospital to develop efficient, forward thinking health delivery strategies in a collaborative manner. Not only that, but also an opportunity to measure strategy outcomes and so there is a base on which to build future programs.

Doreen Hutchinson, vice president of operations at Fairview, spearheaded the grant process and recognized the contributions of Conor Bevin, Dr. Mark Pettus and Fairview leaders Tony Rinaldi and Dr. Brian Burke.

In her remarks, Hutchinson noted, “Access to population health is often an overlooked aspect of the right to health. Without practical access, the right to health is an empty promise. The barriers of lack of healthcare professionals, geographic and climate condition, access to healthcare services and benefits, lack of transportation and poor municipal infrastructure are harsh realities for those who live in South Berkshire County. This grant led by Fairview Hospital aims to develop a network to bring together health care providers and community stakeholders to expand access and coordinate and improve quality of essential health services.”

She emphasized the importance of past collaboration as a foundation for the project, citing key grant partners Community Health Programs and East Mountain Medical Associates. “Our community stakeholders also include VIM, BVNA, BMC Psychiatric Services, Berkshire South Community Center, Railroad Street Youth Project, Grace Episcopal Church, Multi-Cultural Bridge, So Berkshire Regional School District, Mass State Office of Rural Health, Elder Services, So Berkshire Canyon Ranch Life Enhancement Program and Berkshire Alliance for Health. This newly formed network will build capacity and infrastructure to enable all of us to increase access to care for our So Berkshire Communities. “

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Baker-Polito administration awards $10.2 million for transportation options for seniors, paratransit customers

Boston — Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Massachusetts Department of Transportation rail and transit administrator Astrid Glynn, Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt, members of the Massachusetts Legislature and transportation advocates Thursday announced Community Transit Grant Program awards totaling $10.2 million to councils on aging, nonprofit organizations, and regional transit authorities throughout the commonwealth to purchase 148 fully accessible vans to provide transportation services to seniors and paratransit customers.

The Community Transit Grant Program is an annual competitive grant program administered by MassDOT’s rail and transit division to meet the mobility needs of seniors and paratransit customers. The program is funded in part by the Mobility Assistance Program, which was reauthorized by Gov. Baker and the Massachusetts Legislature this spring in the $290 million transportation funding bill.

The Pittsfield-based Berkshire Regional Transit Authority is one of the organizations receiving an award.

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