The new center, in the former radiation oncology space, held an open house on Thursday evening.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Medical Center recently opened a new Endoscopy Center on its main campus, bringing both in-patient and ambulatory care under one roof.
The $5 million investment in what was previously the radiation oncology suites has allowed the health system to better service patients.
"The past years have been at the Crane Center," said Dr. Jason Bratcher. "We were doing [in-patient] procedures in the operating room. It just wasn't as cohesive and together doing out-patients there and in-patients here. ...
"It makes it much better for patient convenience and patient care."
The center sees about 7,000 patients — basically a large Berkshire town — every year. When endoscopy was located in the Crane Center, doctors, nurses and equipment often had to be shuttled across busy Wahconah Street to treat hospital patients in an operating room.
"This is nice because we can process them all in the same place," said Jackie Sciola, director of ambulatory surgery and endoscopy. "It makes it very convenient for the patents and the physicians when they don't have to go back and forth across the street."
Sciola is a registered nurse certified in gastroentorology. The departent has 13 nurses, full and part time, to take care of the 40 or so patients who come through the center daily.
The number of procedure rooms has increased from three to five and another doctor added to the gastroentorology practice. Several other physicians also have use of the facilities.
The center is open five days a week for out-patient procedures and 24/7 for hospital needs.
"If a patient calls today for a procedure, we can probably get them in within a month, we shoot for two weeks, but that doesn't always happen with the doctors' schedules," said Sciola. "I think that's pretty good because we were booking out to six to eight weeks."
The center offers a large airy recovery room with high ceilings and plenty of natural light.
"It's working out perfectly. The ergonomics of the space are wonderful," said Dr. Marcella Bradway, a colon and rectal surgery specialist. "It's just designed for what we do, it's designed for endoscopy and for efficiency ... I don't think it helps me do it faster, but I think it helps me to be less harried in between. Because I don't have to rush around a large facility, I can spend more time with my patients talking to them afterward."
Any procedure can be very stressful, Bratcher said, so having a pleasant place for patients to enter can be very helpful.
Endoscopy is the non-invasive examination of the gastrointestinal tract by inserting through the mouth or rectum a long thin cable, or endoscope, that contains a camera. The device can also utilize surgical instruments for biopsies or removing polyps. It can be used for examining the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, pancreas, liver and bile duct. Endoscopic ultrasound also can be used for cancer screenings.
"The hardest part is the prep because they have to be cleaned out so we can see," Bratcher said. That means taking a two-part laxative. "The hardest part of the colonoscopy is the prep because if you have stool in there, we can't see anything."
The actual procedure is probably the easiest part. Patients are generally put under anesthesia for the 15 to 45 minutes and rarely remember anything, said Bratcher, adding "99.9 percent of patients wake up and say when are we going to start?"
The center is pushing for people to have cancer screenings by advertising the fact that March is colorectocal cancer screening month. Bratcher said colon cancer is one of the major cancers that is highly treatable in its early stages.
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectoral cancer is a leading cause of cancer death for both men and women. More than 130,000 people are diagnosed each year. Older people are more at risk; African-Americans are also at greater risk and should get screenings by age 45.
It's usually identified by a small growth, or polyp, that if removed early can prevent the cancer from spreading. Survival rates in those cases are 90 percent, but fewer than half are diagnosed at that early stage.
"Everyone should get screened by the age of 50 but if there a family history or other specific conditions it should be sooner," Bratcher said.
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Pittsfield Schools Transition to Hybrid Learning with Caution
By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield students are returning to their physical classrooms for a full week for the first time since November.
Interim Superintendent Joseph Curtis on outlined the ways that the school community will be protected from COVID-19 to the School Committee on Wednesday.
"Amazingly enough, we're 17 days away from, I'll use the term 'anniversary' although I don't think it's anything to celebrate, from that March 13, 2020, when we had a series of very intense days with [former] Superintendent [Jason] McCandless and representatives, and certainly our mayor, and we made the decision ahead of our governor to close our schools," he told the committee.
"At that time we were giving an estimate of roughly two weeks for closure just to assess where we were and where we needed to go, and as you know, the better part of one year now, we have remained in remote learning."
The klan had a significant presence in the Berkshires by the early 1920s, at least. At first, locals traveled to meetings in nearby areas of Connecticut and New Jersey, but soon began holding meetings locally with hundreds of attendees, and large regular induction ceremonies. click for more
Keeping food on the table and a roof over your head during the pandemic is nearly impossible for millions of Americans.
That is the reality for scores of immigrant families in Berkshire County. The Berkshire Immigrant Center is working to support those families now more than ever, but the... click for more