Briefcase Departments


Route 5 Tunnel to Be Closed for Several Weeks
WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Mass. Department of Transportation announced recently that the tunnel that carries Route 5 under the Route 20 rotary adjacent to the North End Bridge in West Springfield will be closed in both directions for several weeks for repairs. Vehicles will be detoured off Route 5 and up the ramp to the rotary for Route 20 and the North End Bridge. Vehicles heading in either direction will travel through the rotary and rejoin Route 5 at the second rotary exit. The closure is required because of advanced deterioration in the tunnel’s concrete driving surface. Numerous attempts to make interim repairs have demonstrated that more extensive repair efforts are necessary. During the closure, the deteriorated portions of the roadway through the tunnel will be chipped to a solid base prior to filling with a rapid-setting concrete, which must be specially ordered. MassDOT encourages drivers to allow for extra time when traveling through the detour and to be mindful of the additional vehicles traveling through the rotary.

Made in the Berkshires Seeks Artistic Submissions
PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Theatre Group will begin accepting submissions on March 10 for the fourth annual Made in the Berkshires festival, which will take place Oct. 10 and 11 at both the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield and the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. The festival has featured cutting-edge theatrical works performed as staged readings, live music, film, short stories, and dance in a festival atmosphere. New and innovative pieces, as well as established work, will be presented by local Berkshire County playwrights, actors, directors, musicians, and performers. The festival will be curated once again by local artists Hilary Somers Deely and Barbara Sims. Submitting artists must live and work at least part-time in the Berkshires. Submissions may include short and full-length plays, music, poetry, short stories, performance art/spoken word, film, and dance. All written material must include the artist’s name, address, and contact information, including phone number. Written material must be bound, with two copies submitted. Music, dance, film, and visual art must include two CDs or two DVDs with the artist’s name, address, and contact information, including phone number and e-mail address. Filmmakers must include the aspect ratio.

No online submissions will be accepted, and materials will not be returned. The deadline for submissions is May 15. Mail submissions to: Made in the Berkshires Submissions, 111 South St., Pittsfield, MA 01201.

Holyoke Medical Center Helps Launch New Phase of Health Info Exchange
HOLYOKE — Gov. Deval Patrick and Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz recently witnessed the launch of phase two of the Mass HIway Health Information Exchange. Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) joined forces with Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital (BIDMC), Tufts Medical Center, and Atrius Health to demonstrate, for the first time, how healthcare providers will have the ability to instantly locate, request, and retrieve medical records from other participating providers from across the Commonwealth on a secure, interconnected system. The event was broadcast live and joined all four healthcare providers via video link. “This technology is a win for all of us. It will help us reduce health costs, improve patient care, and save lives,” Patrick said. “Accurate health information is the fuel of our healthcare system, and these innovations will allow providers to treat patients with greater accuracy and speed.” At the simulation, Emergency Department (ED) clinicians at BIDMC simulated an encounter where a patient presented to the ED as combative, non-compliant, and unable to give a reliable past medical history. Using the Mass HIway, doctors were able to discover the patient had previously been treated at HMC, Atrius Health, and Tufts, and, using the Mass HIway, they were able to request and retrieve these records at the touch of a button. This provided the BIDMC clinicians to instantly have a comprehensive medical history on the patient and allowed the care team to avoid drug-to-drug and allergic reactions, unnecessary or duplicative testing, and delayed diagnosis. “Holyoke Medical Center continues to be a leader in the area of health-information exchange,” said HMC Vice President of Operations and chief information officer Carl Cameron. “The Holyoke Medical Center HealthConnect currently has 60 healthcare providers in its exchange, and when the Mass HIway is fully opened up, these 60 providers will also have the ability to exchange information through the highway.” The mission of the Mass HIway is to deploy a secure electronic health-information exchange that is accessible to all healthcare systems statewide regardless of affiliation, location, or differences in technology, and to and serve as a tool for the Commonwealth’s healthcare community to improve coordination, quality, patient satisfaction, and public-health reporting while containing costs. The Mass HIway is operated by the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Construction Industry Rebounds in January, Gains 48,000 Jobs
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The construction industry gained 48,000 jobs in January, according to the Feb. 7 employment report by the U.S. Department of Labor. Non-residential construction gained 21,000 jobs, representing a significant rebound from the 14,100 jobs lost by the segment in December. Non-residential construction accounted for 47.7% of January’s total construction-industry job gain and 28.1% of the construction-industry job gain in the past year. The national construction unemployment rate expanded to 12.3% on a non-seasonally adjusted basis in January, compared with 11.4% in December. This was due to a combination of seasonal factors and may be impacted by the end of the government’s long-term unemployment benefits program, which may have induced people look for work in construction, an industry generally known to be in recovery.

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