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Neighborhood Health Center Becomes Federally Qualified Health Center
August 4, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEIGHBORHOOD HEALTH CENTER BECOMES FEDERALLY QUALIFIED HEALTH CENTER: MOVE IMPROVES ACCESS TO CARE AND SERVICES

PITTSFIELD, MA - Berkshire Health Systems (BHS) and Community Health Programs (CHP) announce that the Neighborhood Health Center (NHC) in Pittsfield has formally made the transition to a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), a non-profit, federally designated organization that will improve access to care and services for the community, particularly for those who are either uninsured or under-insured. The transition of the NHC to a FQHC is effective August 1st, and the new name for the center is the CHP Neighborhood Health Center.

Community Health Programs, in collaboration with BHS, applied for the FQHC designation in order to expand service for families and communities throughout Berkshire County by building on the long-term success of CHP’s South Berkshire center. As a result, Congressman John Olver announced in September, 2007 that Community Health Programs had been awarded a $329,167 Department of Health and Human Services New Access Point Grant to begin the transition.

Consistent with the collective missions of both Berkshire Health Systems and Community Health Programs, services at the NHC are provided regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. The NHC also accepts all types of health insurance. The FQHC designation provides for federal funding that will further improve access to care and provides numerous other benefits to patients and the community. The NHC provides a different model of care, with services for patients and families of all ages, creating access to a broader range of services that will be provided on-site or by referral, including pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, dental care, nutrition and outreach, which will be phased in, in addition to primary care services. The physical space at the Neighborhood Health Center is also being expanded.

“The success of the Community Health Program’s center in Great Barrington – an initiative that was borne out of a collaborative effort between BHS, CHP and community leaders in Southern Berkshire nearly ten years ago – has shown that this model of care is of great benefit to the community,” said David E. Phelps, President of Berkshire Health Systems. “Because of this success, and with our mission to meet community needs in mind, Berkshire Health Systems and CHP again collaborated to bring this model of healthcare delivery to more Berkshire County residents so that they have access to the primary care services they need.”

“We are pleased and excited to have this opportunity to provide our services to a larger group of people,” said Marcia Savage, EdD, Executive Director of Community Health Programs. “CHP’s operation of the Neighborhood Health Center will allow Pittsfield residents access to expanded health care and wellness services, and will enable us to enhance the services we offer to the community.”

"Expanding access to affordable healthcare is one of my top priorities," Congressman John Olver said. “Community health centers are one of the most efficient ways to provide critical services, including preventative care, to the most vulnerable populations who aren't receiving necessary medical services elsewhere. This designation will help the Neighborhood Health Center provide numerous benefits to patients and the community.”

The Neighborhood Health Center, located at 510 North Street in Pittsfield was previously administered by Berkshire Health Systems, which remains a partner in the delivery of care in collaboration with CHP. The BHS physicians who had provided care at the NHC are continuing in that role, and the NHC will remain as the ambulatory teaching site for the Berkshire Medical Center medical residency program. Practitioners at the CHP NHC include Charles Wohl, MD, Mario Flores, MD, Carlos Valle-Santana, MD and Nurse Practitioner Elizabeth Toomajian.

Community Health Programs’ mission is to provide accessible care and services to improve the health and well being of residents of all ages living in Berkshire County and adjacent communities, regardless of insurance status, immigrant status or ability to pay. Currently, CHP serves over 6,000 individuals annually through its many programs.

Appointments may be made at the CHP Neighborhood Health Center by calling 413-447-2351.

For more information, contact Marcia Savage, Community Health Programs, 413-528-9311 and Ruth Blodgett, Berkshire Health Systems, 413-447-2788.
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