State Helps Plan Countywide Health Coalition

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The effort to create a countywide health coalition received a boost Friday with the announcement of a $29,000 planning grant.

Local boards of health have been discussing sharing services for years and now they can map out how the coalition would operate with the help of state funds.

"It's basically an organizational planning grant," Berkshire Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Nathaniel Karns said Friday. "Over the years public health board have been given more responsibility and most of our boards are volunteers."

The idea is basically for the smaller of the county towns to pool their resources together to handle inspections and administer programs. The local boards would still be in charge of setting policy while providing shared services for the whole county.

"What we're envisioning is an ala carte menu," Karns said. "I would expect there would be contractors or paid staff hired to do specific things."

Karns used pool and septic inspections as examples of services that could be provided countywide. Mount Washington, for example, has only 144 residents but there is also a camp that needs pool inspections, Karns said. An inspector could be hired for the entire or portions of the county to handle all of the inspections.

The state also does not fund local health boards but does provide competitive grants. As one entity, the county would have a stronger chance at getting the grants; health officials hope that it will ease the financial burden on the towns.

If the coalition is created, the towns involved are envisioned to have representation and voting rights on the regional board.

Karns said 21 of the county's municipalities – the largest being North Adams – have signed onto the idea but they are not locked into their involvement as the planning progresses.

This grant also qualifies the health coalition for an attempt at securing a $150,000 grant for implementation in the fall. The grant, announced Friday by Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, is being handled by BRPC but the health officials will be doing the planning.

Tags: Berkshire Regional Planning Commission,   health coalition,   

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BCC's Nursing Program Restored to Full Approval

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Community College's Associate Degree in Nursing program is once again in full compliance with the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing requirements and will start accepting students again in the fall of 2020.

This news was announced at the Board of Registration in Nursing's Dec. 11 board meeting. A site survey was completed by board designees in October 2019 and the positive results of that visit were shared this week. In that site survey, board personnel reviewed documentation, met with students, faculty and staff, toured the facilities, and carefully examined both current data and plans for future data collection.

The college's Practical Nursing program (PN) also underwent a scheduled 10-year site visit this fall, which reviewed the certificate program. This program continues to be fully compliant with MABORN requirements.

"This was a campus-wide effort to meet the needs of our community. We are very proud that our collective efforts and focus resulted in the full reinstatement of the ADN program," BCC President Ellen Kennedy said in a statement. "Berkshire Community College has been offering nursing education for over 50 years and we will continue to provide high quality nursing education that leads to employment and meets the needs of health care providers."

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