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The BMC Cancer Center at Tor Court opened in January 2014; the final phase of construction will be completed in October.
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BHS President David Phelps addresses the gathering.
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Trustees Chairman Timothy Doherty, left, Dr. Andrew Norden of Dana-Farber and Dr. Micheal DeLeo of BMC wait on the podium.
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U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, left, attends the gathering with Phelps.
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Norden describes the relationship between BMC doctors and Dana-Farber as 'outstanding.'
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Neal speaks also spoke at the gathering about the importance of federal health research.
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Phelps and Norden share a handshake.
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DeLeo says the cancer center's goals is to provide comprehensive care.

Berkshire Medical Center Inaugural Member of Dana-Farber/Brigham Collaborative

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Hundreds gathered under a tent on the Hillcrest Campus following a meeting of the corporators of Berkshire Health Systems.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Medical Center is formalizing its relationships with two highly regarded health-care brands as it closes in on the completion of its Cancer Center.

BMC will be the inaugural member of the new Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Care Collaborative, following review by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission.

"It creates a formal link with countless possibilities between our institutions, our caregivers and our patients," Berkshire Health Systems President and CEO David Phelps said on Monday to hundreds of BHS staff, physicians, guests, patients and neighbors. "It ensures a bright future for cancer care in the future."

The announcement was made at a special meeting of Berkshire Health Systems, held under a tent outside the new BMC Cancer Center on the Hillcrest Campus at Tor Court. The new center, initiated in 2012, is expected to complete its third and final phase of construction at the end of October.

The collaboration talks had been underway for some time, say health-care officials, and were based on the strong informal relationship between BMC and the Boston cancer center (including through the local Jimmy Fund chapter) as well as BMC's consistently high rankings in quality and its new $35 million ("give or take a few million") Cancer Center.  

"There was never any doubt what we wanted to achieve," Phelps said, who described the partnering as a validation of BMC's ongoing efforts. "But we were asking them to consider a model that didn't exist."

Dr. Andrew Norden, chief medical officer for Dana-Farber Community Cancer Care, noted that the two eastern institutions' branding was their "most valuable asset," and not one shared lightly. An extensive review and a visit by a team of 18 convinced them that their collaboration should step up to the next level.

"We've been talking about it for a long time because we've had a really outstanding relationship," Norden said. "It has always been clear that there's a strong set of shared values and a strong vision of patient care and I think that's what got us in the room talking about making this more formal."

The new partnership will set annual reviews for standards and practices at BMC and provide educational opportunities for caregivers. Physicians from Dana-Farber/Brigham may provide medical oncology specialty second opinion clinics on-site at Berkshire Medical Center.

Dr. Michael DeLeo, an hematology oncologist at BMC, said the cancer treatments and the field of oncology is changing rapidly.

"Our goal here is to be active, to be looking forward and to continue our improvement in both providing specific oncological services to our patients but also providing infusion services and administrative services so were making the care of the the patients total for both their physical and psychological needs as well as helping them and their families," he said.

DeLeo said it meant a great deal to the staff to know that Dana-Farber had come to the BMC Cancer Center and been satisfied with the quality of care and its procedures, and its objectives to provide "the best care possible in the best way possible."

"We take great pride in this affiliation with Dana-Farber," he said. "We think of it as a real stamp of approval.  I know it's more than that and I know that we will grow together."

The partnership may also provide another incentive for recruiting doctors, one of the potential benefits listed by BHS in 2012 when the plans for the cancer center were first unveiled.

Since then, BMC has added two new oncologists — Trevor Bayliss and Dawn Brooks.

"Our goal was to build a comprehensive cancer center that would be exceptional in every way    and allow us to attract younger physicians," said Phelps. "We've met, and some say exceeded, our goals."

Tags: BHS,   BMC,   cancer,   collaboration,   oncology,   

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Berkshire County Regional Employment Board Awarded State Grant

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Healey-Driscoll Administration announced $16.3 million in Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF) grants awarded to nine organizations to upskill 1,860 individuals for careers in high-demand occupations in healthcare and behavioral health sectors across Massachusetts. 
The funding will support initiatives to train and hire unemployed and underemployed individuals while providing current employees with the skills to meet the needs of Massachusetts employers for roles such as Emergency Medical Technician, Certified Nurse Assistant, and Mental Health Peer Support Specialist.
"Industries across the state are experiencing workforce challenges, but the need is particularly great in behavioral health care, as we need enough trained workers to provide the care that our residents need and deserve," said Governor Maura Healey. "These grants will help address these challenges by hiring and training new talent and upskilling existing talent."  
In Berkshire County, the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board, Inc. was awarded $2,227,173.
Berkshire County Regional Employment Board will provide training and placement services to prepare 510 unemployed and underemployed participants for Medical Assistant, Certified Nurse Assistant, Acute Care Nurse Assistant, and Registered Behavioral Technician positions. They will partner with Community Health Programs, The Brien Center, Berkshire Health Systems, and Integritus Healthcare. 
This partnership also aims to assess the demand and develop programming opportunities for Licensed Practical Nurses, career pathways for Licensed Practical Nurses to Registered Nurses, and provide career advancement training for incumbent Behavioral Health workers.
The Workforce Competitive Trust Fund Program grants, administered by Commonwealth Corporation on behalf of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, are part of the Healey-Driscoll Administration's strategic investment to retain and upskill existing talent in Massachusetts' current workforce. The Healthcare/Behavioral Health Hub Grants announced today support investments in collaborative efforts focused on addressing healthcare and behavioral health workforce needs in regions across the Commonwealth. 
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