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Berkshire Medical Center Rated As Top Hospital

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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 Cheryl Boudreau, executive assistant to   David Phelps, admires the excellence award given to BMC. Top: Dr. Jack Ringler, left, Dr. Daniel Doyle, John Gottung, Bruce Cutter and Michele Franklin pose with pulmonary award.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — More than 152,000 lives could have been saved - if only they'd been treated at Berkshire Medical Center.

That's the finding of HealthGrades, the nation's leading health-care rating organization, which presented the hospital with its 2009 Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence for being in the top 5 percent of the nearly 5,000 medical institutions it surveys.

"We've been working at this for a very long time," said Berkshire Health Systems President David A. Phelps. "When you end up being the sole community provider of services people depend upon, you have to force yourself to be exceptional. Tonight has been a validation for us that we're making tremendous progress. ... It's a pretty remarkable achievement."

In fact, the presentation took up the bulk of BHS's annual meeting held Tuesday night at the Colonial theater. The election of trustees (George T. Smith, Timothy C. Doherty, Shepard D. Rainie, Brian H. Fairbank, Dr. Edmund H. Hornstein, Dr. John R. Kearns and Thomas O. Andrews) and corporators took only a few minutes.

Berkshire Health Systems knew BMC was getting the award two months ago but had to stay tight-lipped until the annual meeting; not even the employees were told about it. Only a select few, and those who attended last night's meeting, knew about the recognition.

It's a significant acknowledgment of the quality of the hospital's services, said Bob Donahue, vice president of HealthGrades.


Bob Donahue of HealthGrade gives background on his organization and the awards. HealthGrade offers online health-care ratings for consumers; it gets 6.5 million unique users a month
"You have a lot to be proud of. This is a very significant award," Donahue told the gathering in the darkened theater. "Patients really pay attention to quality ... they want to make sure they're being provided the best possible. They're getting excellent care at Berkshire Medical Center."

How does HealthGrade know that? By crunching data from some 41 million hospitalization records of Medicare recipients from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

BMC's award referred to records from the years 2005, 2006 and 2007 (it takes awhile to review that many records). Hospitals treating Medicare patients are rated according to outcomes in 26 separate diagnoses and procedures. Some 70 to 80 percent fall in the middle range, their outcomes not significantly different; 10 to 15 percent fall below that and 10 to 15 percent above.

The hospital fell into the top, or five-star, rating in all 26 categories, said Donahue. That also gave it a five-star rating treatment of stroke and heart attacks, and made it No. 1 in Massachusetts for critical care, pulmonary care and gastrointestinal treatment. It also scored a second award, the HealthGrades Pulmonary Care Excellence Award.

"It's a nice fuzzy moment in a rather bleak and cold Berkshire winter," said Dr. Daniel Doyle, medical director of critical care and division chief of pulmonary medicine.



Dr. Gray Ellrodt, COO Diane Kelly, President David A. Phelps, CFO Darlene Rodowicz and Chairwoman Susan Kormanik.
Patients at five-star rated hospitals are 27 percent less likely to die and 8 percent less likely to have major complications. Over the three-year period reviewed, 152,660 deaths could have been avoided if those patients had entered one of the 270 hospitals like BMC.

Doctors and health system leaders credited the collaborative and hardworking members of the health system community at all levels and the resources given them for achieving the ranking, one of only two awarded in Massachusetts for 2009.

Phelps choked up as he reflected on the long road the health system had taken to this moment "There were times when people weren't sure we could get here, so thank all of you for giving us this special moment tonight. The work you do is remarkable and our community is the better for it. Thank all of you."

When the health system's leadership was setting goals, Massachusetts General was the benchmark by which BMC was to measure itself. Coincidentally, MassGeneral was the other Bay State institution receiving the clinical excellence award.

"If you're a health-care consumer you have a right to expect that any hospital you go to for care should be as good as anywhere else," said Phelps. "To be as good as it would be at any big-name institution. ... We're think we're better."

Mayor James M. Ruberto read a resolution from the city congratulating the hospital, but quipped that the video presentation about BMC that declared "Right Here. BMC." should have read "Right Here in Pittsfield. BMC."

Elizabeth Cardona, director of Gov. Deval Patrick's Western Massachusetts office, arrived slightly late but with a large gift — a $500,000 Essential Community Provider Grant.

"These accomplishments directly translate into the increased savings of lives and the improvement in the quality of those lives," said Susan M. Kormanik, outgoing chairman of the board.

But she was somewhat exasperated that too little attention had been paid locally to those accomplishments.

"I have sometimes been frustrated that it remains the biggest secret in Berkshire County just how good we are."
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Cultural Pittsfield This Week: Aug. 2-8

Enjoy 18 different art shows featuring work by more than two dozen accomplished regional and student artists in Pittsfield's bustling Upstreet Cultural District during the First Friday Artswalk and all month long! 
 
In most venues, artists will be present from 5-8 p.m. A free guided tour begins at 5 p.m. at the Intermodal Center @ BRTA, 1 Columbus Ave.
 
The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts will host HAPPY, an abstract art show by Jesse Tobin McCauley for the month of August. There will be an opening reception during First Fridays Artswalk from 5-8 p.m. The exhibit runs through August 31.
 
Kids and teens, pick up the August 2nd Scavenger Hunt flyer for a chance to win a prize! Grab yours at the Artswalk table in Crawford Square, 137 North St., during the Artswalk or print one from the website.
  MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE
Berkshires Jazz brings five of the most popular regional bands to the stage for the 2019 Berkshire Jazz Showcase, on the Pittsfield Common from 12-5 p.m. The wide-ranging lineup for this jazz extravaganza includes Gina Coleman and Misty Blues, Paul Green and Two Worlds, Andy Wrba's Berkshire Jazz Collective,
First Take with Mary Ann Palermo and the Kyle Murray Quintet. FREE.
Hancock Shaker Village welcomes Berkshire Opera Festival as they pay homage to American opera by composers such as Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Carlisle Floyd. The recital, "Ain't it a Pretty Night," will feature soprano Caroline Worra, tenor John Riesen and pianist Lynn Baker will explore this essential part of the musical fabric of our country. 7:30 p.m. $18-$25.
Plus...  
FRI WordXWord Festival: Crosstalk at Tyler Street Lab | FRI Grahm Sturz at Hotel on North FRI Blue Light Trio at Rainbow | FRI Anthony Luchi at Rusty Anchor | FRI Sawyer Country at Proprietor's Lodge | FRI Karaoke Night at Friends | SAT WordXWord Festival: Accomplice[d] at Berkshire Museum | SAT Orin Swift Cellars Wine Tasting at Hotel on North | SAT Melissa Brinton at Rusty Anchor | SAT Jason & Trev at J. Allen's | SAT Uncensored Comedy Show at Uncorked | SUN Country Dance w/Spurs USA at Italian American Club | SUN-MON Marilyn Maye at Barrington Stage | MON Jazz Night at Mission | TUE Wintergreen at Springside Park | TUE Open Mic Night at O'Laughlin's | WED Live on the Lake: Generation X at Onota Lake | WED Gruppo Mondo at Rainbow | THU Deja Again at Mazzeo's | THU Abandoned Building Brewery Beer Dinner at Hotel on North | THU The Picky B's at Mission
  FAMILY FRIENDLY

Based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks animated film, Shrek The Musical is a Tony Award-winning fairytale adventure featuring all new songs from Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie) and a side-splitting book by David Lindsay-Abaire. Shrek brings all the beloved characters you know from the film to the stage and proves there's more to the story than meets the ears. The Colonial Theatre through August 9. $35 and up.
 
Plus...
ONGOING Hansel & Gretel at Berkshire Museum FRI WeeMuse: Adventures at Berkshire Museum FRI Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum FRI Yoga for Kids at Berkshire Athenaeum FRI-THU Parenting Classes & Play Groups at 18 Degrees (formerly Berkshire Children & Families) SAT WeeMuse: Art Lab at Berkshire Museum SAT Health & Wellness Fair at 18 Degrees (formerly Berkshire Children & Families) SAT Chow Time at Berkshire Museum SAT Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum SAT Child & Family Yoga at Onota Lake SAT da Vinci After Hours at Berkshire Museum SUN Discovery Tank Program at Berkshire Museum | MON Exploring Our World at Berkshire Museum MON Kindergarten Countdown at Berkshire Athenaeum MON Star Lab at Berkshire Athenaeum MON Cones with a Cop on The Common MON Stardust Cafe at Berkshire Athenaeum MON Swan Lake Dance Intensive at Cantarella School of Dance MON Auditions for Magic Tree House Kids at The Colonial MON+ KidsAct! at Barrington Stage TUE WeeMuse: Littlest Learners at Berkshire Museum TUE Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum TUE Princess Songs & Popsicle Party at The Whitney TUE Project SpaceCRAFT: Planet Pinch Pots at Be TUE Screening of Monsters vs Aliens at Berkshire Athenaeum WED Little Gardeners of the Galaxy at Berkshire Athenaeum WED Uncharted Wild Animal Show at Berkshire Athenaeum WED Tie Dye on the Terrace at Berkshire Athenaeum | WED Creative Healing Workshop w/Funky Phoenix at Berkshire Museum THU Farm Friends at Hancock Shaker Village | THU Exploring Our World at Berkshire Museum THU Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum THU Story Time at Berkshire Athenaeum THU Lego Lift Off at Berkshire Athenaeum
  WELLNESS
SAT Outdoor Yoga & Zumba at Onota Lake
 
Join Rachael from Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness every 1st and 3rd Saturday (June through August) for outdoor yoga and Zumba classes at Burbank Park on Onota Lake. Yoga begins at 9 a.m. and Zumba at 10:15 a.m. Come to one class or both! $10 suggested donation per class. Rain cancels.
Plus...
FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Running Center | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Family YMCA | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness FRI-THU Various Classes at Radiance Yoga | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Salsa FRI-THU Various Classes at Pilates Fit | SAT Sunrise Yoga on the Deck at Rusty Anchor | SUN Guido's Great 8 Road Race | TUE Summer Fit Training at Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness | THU Outdoor Yoga at Onota Lake
  PERFORMANCE
ONGOING If I Forget at Barrington Stage
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