Home Archive by category HCN News & Notes

HCN News & Notes

Daily News Elder Care HCN News & Notes Health Care Healthcare Heroes News Retirement Planning Senior Planning Summer Safety

SPRINGFIELD — In the spring of 2017, Healthcare News and its sister publication, BusinessWest, created a new and exciting recognition program called Healthcare Heroes.

It was launched with the theory that there are heroes working all across this region’s wide, deep, and all-important healthcare sector, and that there was no shortage of fascinating stories to tell and individuals and groups to honor. That theory has certainly been validated.

But there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of heroes whose stories we still need to tell, especially in these times, when the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many types of heroes to the forefront. And that’s where you come in.

Nominations for the class of 2022 are due July 29, and we encourage you to get involved and help recognize someone you consider to be a hero in the community we call Western Mass. in one (or more) of these seven categories:

• Patient/Resident/Client Care Provider;

•  Health/Wellness Administrator/Administration;

• Emerging Leader;

• Community Health;

• Innovation in Health/Wellness;

•  Collaboration in Health/Wellness; and

• Lifetime Achievement.

Nominations can be submitted at


For more information call Melissa Hallock, Marketing and Events Director, at (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or email to [email protected]

Daily News Education Environment and Engineering HCN News & Notes Health Care News Sports & Leisure Summer Safety Travel and Tourism

AMHERST — UMass Amherst has received a $10 million, five-year award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create the New England Center of Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases (NEWVEC).

The UMass-based center is one in a group of regional centers of excellence designated by the CDC to reduce the risk of vector-borne diseases – such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus – spread by ticks, mosquitoes and other blood-sucking arthropods across the U.S.

Stephen Rich, vector-borne disease expert and professor of microbiology, is the principal investigator on the project and will serve as the executive director of NEWVEC, whose three-pronged mission will integrate applied research, training and community of practice to prevent and reduce tick- and mosquito-borne diseases in New England. NEWVEC aims to bring together academic communities, public health practitioners and residents and visitors across the Northeast.

“We’re really excited about building this community of practice and embracing all the stakeholders in the region who need to know how to do things like reduce ticks and mosquitoes on school properties and public spaces. It is also important to inform the public on best practices to keep ticks and mosquitoes from biting people and their pets,” Rich said. “Part of that mission entails training public health entomologists — undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D.-level students — who are going to be the next generation of people confronting these challenges.”

Infectious disease epidemiologist Andrew Lover, assistant professor in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, will serve as deputy director of the center, with co-principal investigator Guang Xu at UMass Amherst, and co-principal investigators at Northern Vermont University, the University of Maine, University of New Hampshire, University of Rhode Island and Western Connecticut State University.

“This center fills a critical gap in responses to vector-borne disease in the region,” said Lover, who aims to apply his prior work with regional malaria elimination programs to build strong networks across the Northeast region. “As pathogens and vectors don’t pay attention to borders, coordination across states is essential for public health response. Among other things, we’ll develop practical public health tools to understand how and where people are most likely to interact with ticks, which will then allow for well-targeted and efficient health programs.”

His lab also will provide technical assistance to directly support local health practitioners in optimizing vector surveillance strategies and designing operational research to improve program effectiveness.

Xu, research professor of microbiology, will be responsible for the center’s pathogen testing core and will conduct applied research in the evaluation of tick suppression approaches.

Rich notes that blood-sucking ticks transmit more vector-borne diseases than any other arthropod in North America, accounting for some 400,000 cases of Lyme disease alone every year. “And at least a half-dozen other pathogens are associated with the blacklegged tick,” commonly known as the deer tick, he adds. “It’s kind of a silent epidemic.”

The researchers say it’s critical to attack the problem on all fronts by using applied research projects to reduce tick populations and optimize personal protection and control products, and by training public health students and workers, as well as individuals.

HCN News & Notes

SPRINGFIELD — As a result of potential cases of COVID-19 in the state and surrounding states, Mercy Medical Center and Providence Behavioral Health Hospital have implemented new restrictions on visitation, effective immediately. These restrictions are in place for the protection of patients and colleagues.

The visitor restrictions are in place at Mercy Medical Center, Family Life Center for Maternity, Weldon Rehabilitation Hospital, and Providence Behavioral Health Hospital. The visitor restrictions are as follows and will remain in effect until further notice:

• Visitors will be limited to one at a time per patient;

• No visitors under 14 years old will be permitted; and

• Do not visit if you have any symptoms of a cold, the flu, or COVID-19.

In order to provide an environment that is as safe as possible for patients, visitors, and colleagues, all visitors are encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water frequently, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer; use a tissue to cover any coughs or sneezes; and assess their own health and, if at risk for illness or displaying any symptoms, consider staying home.

“We recognize that the care and support of your loved ones is important,” the hospital noted in a statement. “With proper authorization in place, we commit to communicating with family and friends as frequently as possible.”

HCN News & Notes

NORTHAMPTON — Given the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus/COVID-19, Cooley Dickinson Hospital is changing its visitor guidelines and restricting visitors, effective immediately. The new guidelines include:

• One visitor per patient at a time;

• No children under age 16;

• Anyone with upper respiratory symptoms, including fever, sore throat, or cough, regardless of travel history, should postpone their visit to Cooley Dickinson Hospital patients or staff until they feel better; and

• Anyone who has recently visited China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea, or other areas where coronavirus has been reported — or has been in contact with someone who is sick and who has been to one of the countries listed above — should postpone their visit to Cooley Dickinson Hospital.

Anyone who need to visit a loved one should practice good hand hygiene and follow the proper steps for cleaning their hands, which are on signs posted around the hospital. Specifically:

• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, or use an alcohol-based gel;

• Avoid touching your eyes, notes and mouth;

• Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue or your inner elbow, and do not sneeze into your hands. Discard the soiled tissue in a wastebasket and clean your hands.

“At Cooley Dickinson, we take the health and safety of our patients, visitors, and community members seriously,” the hospital said in a statement. For the most up-to-date information, visit the CDC or Massachusetts Department of Public Health website.

HCN News & Notes

NORTHAMPTON — Community behavioral-health agency Clinical & Support Options is proving a local nonprofit can make a positive social impact while also employing the best in business practices at the same time.

Clinical & Support Options (CSO) has again achieved national accreditation through the New York-based Council on Accreditation (COA). CSO prepared for a year to earn the four-year reaccreditation, which was originally awarded to the agency in January 2016.

COA accreditation is a sought-after benchmark among human-service organizations. It demonstrates implementation of best-practice standards in all aspects of programming, service, management, and administration.

“It’s validating to have a highly regarded accreditor come to CSO, spend days and weeks scrutinizing all our policies, procedures, services, and locations, and then come to the final determination that CSO conducts business ethically and responsibly,” CSO President and CEO Karin Jeffers said. “Our job is to provide the very best service we can to our individual and family clients. Our commitment to best practices and quality improvement is reflected in this reaccreditation, and I’m very proud of our entire staff.”

Clinical & Support Options, originally founded in Greenfield in 1954, now has 16 locations throughout Western and Central Mass. and employs more than 750 local staff. CSO offers a full range of behavioral-health services, including crisis evaluation and stabilization, outpatient therapy, family and community supports, emergency shelter, substance-abuse services, and more. For the last eight years, CSO has developed a ‘trauma-informed care’ model that takes a holistic approach to understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma.

COA evaluated 811 different standards, covering all aspects of CSO’s programs, services, management, and administration.

 “COA accreditation is an arduous process, but well worth it,” Jeffers said. “It proves our organization is accountable, reliable, and consistent. CSO is well-coordinated, culturally competent, and employs evidence-based, trauma-informed processes.”

Daily News HCN News & Notes

HOLYOKE — River Valley Counseling Center (RVCC) held a training titled “Understanding, Assessing, Managing, and Preventing Suicidal Behavior” at Holyoke High School’s North Campus on March 2.

RVCC therapists attended the event, along with school counselors, psychologists, and nurses from 14 local school districts. The training reviewed the spectrum of self-destructive behavior, differentiated suicide from non-suicidal self-injurious behavior, reviewed suicide assessment and intervention, and discussed sitting with misery and self-care. 

The presenter, Barent Walsh, has written extensively and presented internationally on the topic of self-destructive behavior. According to Walsh, “the field of suicide prevention is evolving with important new empirically supported theories and interventions.” The author of Treating Self-Injury: A Practical Guide, Walsh is the executive director emeritus of Open Sky Community Services, a human-service agency headquartered in Worcester. He is also a lecturer on Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School at Cambridge Health Alliance.

Alexa Mignano, director of School-Based Clinical Services at RVCC, brought forth the idea of the training in response to an increase in self-harming and suicidal behavior among students in the Pioneer Valley.

“As the premier provider of school-based therapy services, it was imperative for RVCC to offer this training in response to the school districts’ concern of increased self-harming behavior and suicidality amongst students,” she said. “Besides providing school districts with clinicians in the schools, we also try to support school administrators and their staff with tools they can utilize to support their school community.”

RVCC partners with local school districts to offer comprehensive clinical services during the school day, providing families with access to therapy by removing barriers such as long waitlists, transportation, insurance-coverage problems, and scheduling conflicts. RVCC currently partners with school districts in Holyoke, Chicopee, Easthampton, Hadley, Hatfield, Amherst, Granby, Springfield, and East Longmeadow. It also has an office on the campus of Springfield Technical Community College, providing counseling services to students.

HCN News & Notes

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced 15 new presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 on March 8, bringing the total number of confirmed or presumptive positive cases in Massachusetts to 28. All 15 cases had a direct connection to the Biogen employee conference in late February, and they include eight men and seven women from Suffolk County, Middlesex County, and Norfolk County.

With this announcement, 23 of the presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 identified in Massachusetts are associated with the Biogen employee meeting. All 15 new presumptive positive cases are isolating at home.

The risk of COVID-19 to the general public in Massachusetts remains low at this time. Specimens from presumptive positive cases will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation.

The Department of Public Health is providing daily updates on the number of confirmed and presumptive positive cases at mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-cases-quarantine-and-monitoring.

As of March 4, 719 people have been subject to self-quarantine in Massachusetts because of COVID-19. Of those, 470 people have completed monitoring and are no longer quarantined, while 249 are currently quarantined. This information is updated online each Wednesday.

For more information on COVID-19, visit mass.gov/2019coronavirus.

HCN News & Notes

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Health is taking preemptive measures to protect the health and safety of its patients, the community, and its healthcare workers by initiating a new visitor policy for all of its hospitals.

Under the new policy, only one visitor per patient is allowed at a time, and people experiencing symptoms of fever and/or cough should not visit.

The new policy is in effect at all Baystate Health hospitals, including Baystate Medical Center and Baystate Children’s Hospital in Springfield, Baystate Wing Hospital in Palmer, Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, and Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield.

Additionally, for Baystate Children’s Hospital, no visitors under the age of 12 are allowed.

Baystate Health’s visitation policy during this time is designed to reduce patient and employee exposure to illness. Visitation is at the discretion of Baystate Health.

Daily News HCN News & Notes

NORTHAMPTON — After a months-long project-planning review process, officials at Cooley Dickinson Hospital received approval from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) to begin renovation of the hospital’s Childbirth Center.

The construction, which begins Tuesday, March 17, will take place in seven phases over approximately 70 weeks; the Childbirth Center will remain open during the project.

Once completed, the Childbirth Center will offer expanded services in its newborn nursery and more home-like surroundings for patients and families. Other improvements, such as the addition of a dedicated tub room for laboring and more comfortable beds for partners, will be completed earlier in the process so more patients can experience the benefits of the renovation project.

“For many months, staff at the Mass Department of Public Health have been involved in reviewing all aspects of our construction plans to meet their stringent safety requirements,” said Vice President of Operations Anthony Scibelli. “The DPH will continue to be involved as each phase of construction is completed and a new one begins.”

Scibelli says the renovation of the Childbirth Center includes refurbishing all patient-care areas and most support areas to make the space more comfortable for patients and families, as well as creating a warmer, more home-like environment. In addition, the newborn nursery will be upgraded to a Level 1B nursery to provide special newborns with extra care and attention before they are discharged from the hospital. Once renovations are complete, Cooley Dickinson will be the only Level 1B nursery in Western Mass.

“Now that the DPH has given us the green light, we are poised to make our vision for the Childbirth Center a reality,” Chief Development Officer Diane Dukette said. “We are grateful to those who have given. We hope to inspire others to support this center, which is so critically important to our community.”

Dukette noted that community members have already donated $1.7 million to underwrite the cost of the Childbirth Center renovation project, which has been named “Breathing New Life.”

Because the Childbirth Center will remain open during the project, staff will work to minimize noise and distractions as much as possible. Working with the construction company, staff will take the necessary steps to mitigate noise within the site. For example, renovations will be phased so the rooms that are under construction will be worked on as far away from patient care as possible. Noise-cancellation machines will be installed to help with noise reduction, and best-practice construction techniques are planned to ensure dust and debris are well-contained.

“As compared to home or commercial construction sites, hospital construction sites use specially designed construction barriers,” Scibelli said. “These are hard, airtight, temporary walls with a double set of temporary doors that workers pass through on their way in and out of the area that is under construction.”

The architect and construction firm have experience in healthcare, both at Cooley Dickinson Hospital and in the field of healthcare construction in general.

The Childbirth Center was last renovated in 1998. Nearly 600 babies are born in the center each year.

HCN News & Notes

LONGMEADOW — Glenmeadow will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, March 12 at 3 p.m. to officially open Fraser’s, a new haven for residents living with dementia that will enhance their sense of purpose.

The space on the second floor of the life-plan community was created to support residents living with dementia or other cognitive loss and is designed for them to engage with staff in activities tailored to their specific interests. Made possible by a gift from two brothers whose mother was a Glenmeadow resident, the space is dedicated to peace, tranquility, and restoration and will also be open and available for staff and all residents seeking a quiet place to decompress and rejuvenate.

An overview on the goals of the room will be presented at the ceremony, and a demonstration will be offered on the use of the room’s resources. Visitors from the public will learn about opportunities to volunteer with residents at Glenmeadow.

Glenmeadow is located at 24 Tabor Crossing, Longmeadow. Guests should request an escort to the room at the front desk in the main lobby.

HCN News & Notes

GREENFIELD — LifePath will hold its next free community learning session, “Getting Started with Social Security and Medicare,” on Wednesday, March 25, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at its offices in the Greenfield Corporate Center, 101 Munson St., Greenfield.

Sabrina Feliciano, Public Affairs specialist at the Social Security Administration, will present on Social Security benefits, retirement, planning for the future, and COLA. Lorraine York-Edberg, SHINE regional program director, will present on the basics of Medicare and the options available.

Fifty-five people attended LifePath’s most recent community learning session on Jan. 29, which was intended for older adults and caregivers concerned about protecting themselves from financial risks, including fraud, scams, and financial exploitation.

The session, called “Avoiding Fraud in the New Year,” featured three presenters. Dean Lagrotteria, LifePath’s Elder Protective Services regional director, explained what financial exploitation is, how to avoid it, and how to report it when it’s suspected. Anita Wilson, Consumer Protection case coordinator at the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, and Rachel Senecal, Elder & Persons with Disabilities Unit coordinator, explained how to recognize the tricks scammers use to steal money or personal information and how people can protect themselves.

That session can be viewed online by clicking here.

Daily News HCN News & Notes

LONGMEADOW — Today, March 5, Sara Kendall and Kim Lee of the Mental Health Association Inc. (MHA) will be on the Bay Path University campus at 7 p.m. to talk about how to ask for help around mental health, and also how to support others who may need help, but aren’t asking for it.

Their simple approach of ‘ask, support, and recommend’ is geared towards individuals who want to be able to reach out and support others, but aren’t trained counselors and may not feel prepared to do so.

This event, which is free and open to the public, will take place in Breck Suite in Wright Hall at Bay Path University, 588 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow.

HCN News & Notes

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, and Department of Developmental Services (DDS) Commissioner Jane Ryder joined advocates, legislators, and family members of individuals with developmental disabilities yesterday for a ceremonial signing of An Act to Protect Persons with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities from Abuse, also known as Nicky’s Law.

Administration officials were joined by Nancy Alterio, director of the Disabled Persons Protection Commission; Leo Sarkissian, executive director of the Arc of Massachusett; family members of the law’s namesake, Nicky Chan; and other advocates and legislators to celebrate the enactment of the law, which establishes a new abuse registry of caregivers in Massachusetts.

The registry will be administered by the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC), the agency tasked with protecting adults with disabilities from the abusive acts or omissions of their caregivers, which will maintain the registry’s list of any providers or caregivers with histories of substantiated abuse. Effective Jan. 31, 2021, any individual listed on the registry cannot be hired or work for DDS or any of its licensed or funded providers throughout the state.

“Protecting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities is vitally important, and I want to thank the family members, advocates, and our legislative colleagues for their work to pass this bill,” Baker said. “The new registry established in Nicky’s Law will provide an additional safeguard against abuse and further improve the safety and quality of services provided to some of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents.”

Currently, candidates who apply to DDS or one of its licensed providers must undergo a criminal offender record information (CORI) and national background check screening before they can be hired. The creation of this registry will provide an additional resource against which DDS and its providers must conduct comprehensive background checks on candidates interested in working with those served by the department.

“The safety and well-being of those we serve is paramount across health and human services,” Sudders said. “We will continue to work with DPPC and the many advocates like the Arc of Massachusetts, who were instrumental in passing this bill, to keep identifying ways we can protect and safeguard individuals from harm or neglect.”

DPPC will maintain the registry and oversee all functions, including notification, decision appeals, and requests to remove a name from the registry. The law takes effect on Jan. 31, 2021, and will include only the names of individuals with substantiated cases of abuse after that date.

HCN News & Notes

SPRINGFIELD — Benchmark Senior Living will host a CEU breakfast presentation on Tuesday, March 24 from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at La Quinta Inn & Suites, 100 Congress St., Springfield.

Caroline Bixby, a social worker with Bill Johnson Staffing and Consulting, will present “Managing Difficult Behaviors: an Integrative Approach.” All behaviors have meaning, but what is the individual trying to say? And how do healthcare staff manage those behaviors while providing treatment and care? Bixby will review behavior-management principles and techniques for working with problematic behaviors in healthcare settings in the context of regulatory compliance.

Social workers and nurses will receive one CEU for attending. This free event is open to the public, and breakfast will be provided. Individuals interested in attending must RSVP no later than Wednesday, March 11 to Allison Baker at (781) 530-7850 or [email protected].

HCN News & Notes

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Health Systems (BHS) announced that Dr. James Lederer Jr. has been appointed to the position of chief medical officer/chief quality officer (CMO/CQO).

“Dr. Lederer has over 20 years of experience in leading innovative, patient-focused, high-quality care initiatives in settings spanning acute-care hospitals, health systems, and physician practices,” said David Phelps, BHS president and CEO. “He has shown to be a proven leader and will help our team to further advance the patient safety and quality initiatives that have placed us among the national leaders in patient care.”

Lederer most recently served as vice president for Clinical Excellence at Allspire Health Partners in Conshohocken, Pa., where he was responsible for setting clinical priorities and establishing best practices for member organizations. Prior to that, he was the CMO/CQO and vice president for Quality and Safety at Saint Alphonsus Health System in Boise, Idaho, where he coordinated all clinical and safety efforts, including graduate medical education, population health, clinical-improvement activities, and physician-leadership programs.

His previous senior leadership roles were at Novant Health in Winston Salem, N.C., including vice president of Clinical Improvement, medical director of Novant Health Corporate, and senior vice president for Medical Affairs at Novant’s Forsyth Medical Center.

Lederer is board-certified in internal medicine and adult infectious diseases. He received his medical degree from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill and completed his residency in combined medicine/pediatrics at the University of Tennessee, as well as a fellowship in infectious diseases at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

HCN News & Notes

LONGMEADOW — Willie Ross School for the Deaf announced the appointment of Joel Skelton to the newly created position of coordinator of Community Engagement at the school.

A native of Dallas, Skelton is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical communication and a master’s degree in communication and media technologies.

In his new position, Skelton will be responsible for creating greater awareness of the school and its brand through various forms of outreach, including a greater presence on social media. He will also handle fundraising and development, grants, and event planning.

Skelton, who has a central auditory processing disorder, was denied access to deaf-education resources when in school. He later received the appropriate deaf services and the use of an interpreter, which helped him to excel academically. That experience helped prepare him to promote the philosophy of Willie Ross School for the Deaf.

“What appealed to me about joining the Willie Ross School is its commitment to its total-communication model of educating deaf and hard-of-hearing students, which emphasizes a range of communication methods that are best suited for each child that might include oral communication and sign language,” Skelton said. “My own story of being denied access to appropriate deaf-education resources has made me aware of the need for schools for the deaf, like Willie Ross, and the importance of having the resources to appropriately meet students’ needs.”

Added President and CEO Bert Carter, “we welcome Joel to our staff in this new position as a way to share the message about Willie Ross and the work we do more broadly through events, social media, and grant requests. Joel’s experience and background make him uniquely qualified to raise our profile and help us engage current and new audiences around the important work we do with students.”

HCN News & Notes

PALMER — Baystate Health’s Senior Class will hold a free seminar on Thursday, March 26 titled “Abdominal Pain, Gallbladder, or Hernia.” The event will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Snow Conference Room at Baystate Wing Hospital, 40 Wright St., Palmer.

Baystate Wing Hospital Surgeon Dr. Zeling Chau will lead the discussion, which will focus on causes and symptoms of abdominal pain.

“Just about everyone at one time or another will get a bellyache,” Chau said. “Most symptoms of abdominal pain will resolve fairly quickly, often without any treatment at all. However, in some cases, chronic or severe abdominal-pain symptoms can be an indicator of a more serious underlying health problem that requires medical attention.”

Susan Fontaine, senior coordinator of Loyalty Programs at Baystate Health, added that “many people suffer from various types of abdominal pains they think are diet- or stress-related when, in fact, it could be a hernia or gallbladder problem that is easily treated. Dr. Chau will explain the early warning signs you should know to prevent a simple hernia or gallbladder issue from becoming a more critical health risk. And there will be plenty of time for questions and answers.”

Baystate Health Senior Class is a free loyalty program dedicated to health and wellness, offered exclusively for men and women ages 55 and over.

The “Abdominal Pain, Gallbladder, or Hernia” seminar is offered at no cost, and a light dinner will be served. Registration is required by calling (413) 794-5200 or visiting abdominalpain.eventbrite.com.

For more information on Baystate’s Loyalty Programs, including Baystate Health Every Woman and Senior Class, visit baystatehealth.org/loyalty.

HCN News & Notes

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center’s leadership team, recognizing the increased need for behavioral-health inpatient beds in Western Mass., has been planning for approximately one year to identify a way to address this need. This process has produced a proposal for a new, state-of-the-art, standalone inpatient facility.

In addition, in September, 2019, Holyoke Medical Center partnered with Signet Health Corp. to assist the hospital in the delivery of behavioral-health services by providing high-quality management and consulting services.

The current inpatient behavioral-health unit at Holyoke Medical Center has a capacity of 20 beds. The proposed new facility would have approximately 100 beds, including the 20 existing beds currently on the fifth floor of the main hospital building. It is designed to provide best-in-class care in a purpose-built facility specifically tailored to accommodate the needs of behavioral-health patients with all of the modern requirements, including secure outdoor space.

A letter of intent has been signed with the Leo Brown Group, a full-service healthcare real-estate development and solutions company, to design and build the facility. Holyoke Medical Center has identified a suitable location on the main hospital campus for the proposed building. In addition, the hospital will continue to work with Signet Health for management services within the proposed facility.

The conversations with appropriate stakeholders, including the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Public Health, and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, will begin shortly and will continue in the following weeks as the hospital seeks to obtain local and state approval to move forward with the project.

“Holyoke Medical Center is eager to have conversations at the state level to expand the much-needed behavioral-health bed capacity in Western Massachusetts. This proposal is fully in line with the Commonwealth’s goal to increase investment in behavioral-health services,” said Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems.

It is estimated that, once approved, the new facility will take 18 months to complete and become operational.

For the past six years, Holyoke Medical Center has been growing and expanding services through recruitment and retention of doctors and advanced-practice providers, Hatiras noted, and the proposed project is aligned with the mission of the health system.

HCN News & Notes

SPRINGFIELD — Mercy Medical Center’s fourth annual Caritas Gala will be held on Saturday, March 21 at MGM Springfield. The gala, with its theme of “A Magical Night in Monte Carlo,” will raise funds to benefit the greatest needs of Mercy Medical Center. These areas include the Pathway to Care initiative addressing the opioid crisis, the new Mandell Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Center, as well as improvements to the Emergency Department.

Honorary chairpersons for the event include Daniel and Jill Keenan and Dr. Robert and Heather Roose. The annual Caritas Awards will honor Nicholas Cocchi, Hampden County sheriff, and Anthony Gulluni, Hampden County district attorney. A posthumous Caritas Award will also be given to the family of Carolyn Meuse, who was Complex Care coordinator at Mercy Medical Center.

The Caritas Gala will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception, live entertainment, dinner, silent auction, a Hannoush Jewelry drawing, and dancing. Pre-registration is required. For more information or to purchase tickets to the gala, visit www.mercycares.com/caritasgala.

HCN News & Notes

SPRINGFIELD — Health New England is launching its “Where Health Matters” grant program as part of its Community Benefits Program for the third year in a row. The grant application process runs through April 27.

The “Where Health Matters” grant program is designed to advance the health and well-being of vulnerable population groups living in Central and Western Mass. Health New England will award five $50,000 grants to community nonprofit organizations, for an annual total of $250,000. The grant program focuses on three areas of health and social factors that influence health: built environment (such as access to healthy foods and places to exercise), transportation, and care coordination.

“We are pleased to continue our grant program in 2020 and acknowledge the importance of giving back to the community to help support the health needs of our most vulnerable community members,” said Marion McGowan, president and CEO of Health New England. “We look forward to partnering with five local organizations that have strong community relationships and are committed to improving the health outcomes of our at-risk residents.”

The grant program will award both one-year and multi-year grants to eligible non-profit organizations, with current IRS-designated 501(c)(3) status, that manage innovative, community-based programs benefiting underserved residents of Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, or Worcester counties of Massachusetts, with a particular focus on Greater Springfield. Preference will be given to programs that focus on mental health, substance use, chronic health conditions (obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, cancer), and the need for increased physical activity and healthy diet.

Health New England’s “Where Health Matters” Grant application process begins with a letter of intent. Organizations meeting the request for proposal (RFP) criteria are encouraged to submit a letter of intent online by 5 p.m. on Monday, March 23. Complete grant RFP applications are due by 5 p.m. on Monday, April 27. For additional information, visit healthnewengland.org/community/grantprogram.

Daily News HCN News & Notes

HOLYOKE — Facing serious psychiatrist shortages that will prevent its future ability to provide safe, quality care, Providence Behavioral Health Hospital, part of Mercy Medical Center, announced it has filed notice with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health of its intent to discontinue inpatient psychiatric services at Providence Hospital in Holyoke on June 30, including adult, geriatric, and pediatric services.

Collaborative planning is underway to help patients access timely psychiatric care and to help affected colleagues transition to new opportunities, including a comprehensive job-placement program.

While licensed for 74 inpatient psychiatry beds, Providence Hospital has regularly operated at fewer than 60 beds over the past two years due to persistent provider shortages that have now become critical.

Substance-use disorder services will continue at Providence Hospital, including the Acute Treatment Service (detoxification), Clinical Stabilization Service (post-detoxification), and outpatient substance-use disorder services, with an intensive outpatient program and a methadone clinic.

After the opening of two new methadone clinics in Springfield, Mercy will also consolidate its methadone clinic on Mill Street in Springfield into its methadone clinic in Holyoke by June 30, as a part of a separate filing. All patients will have individual meetings to ensure a smooth transition of care.

HCN News & Notes

AGAWAM — The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Western Massachusetts will hold its annual meeting on Sunday, March 29 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Chicopee Public Library, 449 Front St., in the Bazan Community Room located downstairs, which has elevator access. Light refreshments will be served.

Because the annual meeting on Jan. 12 did not have a quorum of members, NAMI Western Mass. must have another meeting to vote on a slate of officers and board members. The meeting is open to the public, but only current members are eligible to vote. Individuals whose membership has lapsed need to renew their membership either through the office or at the meeting in order to vote. Member attendance at this meeting is critical to the continuation of the NAMI Western Mass. affiliate.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation’s largest grassroots mental-health organization, providing advocacy, education, support, and public awareness so that individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives.

To view the slate of officers, board member information, as well as bylaw proposed changes, visit www.namiwm.org/home or call the office at (413) 786-9139.

HCN News & Notes

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Health’s Cardiac Surgery program received national recognition by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) for achieving a high level of clinical excellence on behalf of its patients.

Baystate has received the coveted 3 STAR ranking from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the highest possible ranking bestowed by the organization, placing its award-winning Cardiac Surgery program among the top 10% in the categories of coronary artery bypass surgery, aortic valve replacement surgery, and mitral valve repair surgery. The new rankings place Baystate in the top 1% to 2% of more than 1,000 cardiac surgical programs in the U.S.

“Achieving such a distinction in one cardiac surgical procedure is certainly a significant accomplishment, but achieving this degree of excellence in three separate procedures is truly remarkable,” said Dr. Thomas Schwann, associate director of the Heart & Vascular Program and chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Surgery for Baystate Health. “These results are a testimony to the skill, dedication, and compassion of our entire Baystate cardiovascular team. Their expertise continues to build on the long tradition of innovation, clinical excellence, and compassionate, patient-centered care that have been the hallmark of our program for over 40 years.”

Daily News HCN News & Notes

CHICOPEE — The School of Nursing at Elms College ranks in the top 10 of “Best Nursing Schools in Massachusetts,” according to a recent ranking by registerednursing.org.

“We are very pleased and gratified to be recognized by registerednursing.org as a top nursing program in the state,” said Kathleen Scoble, dean of the School of Nursing. “It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our nursing faculty and staff to provide a high-quality nursing curriculum for our students. As a result, Elms College nursing students have performed extraordinarily well on the NCLEX-RN [National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses] exam over the past three years, with an average pass rate of 98%.”

To determine this year’s rankings, registerednursing.org researched the 40 nursing programs across the state and analyzed their students’ performance on the NCLEX-RN exam over the past five years. In 2019, Elms College nurses achieved a 97% pass rate on the exam, while the national pass rate was 91%.

This is the third top-10 ranking for Elms College’s School of Nursing over the past year. It has been ranked in the top 10 of nursing schools in Massachusetts according to both nurse.org and  niche.com.

HCN News & Notes

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Health Systems announced the appointment of Dr. Richard Basile, board-certified in general surgery and certified by the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine, to the physician staff of Berkshire Surgical Services of BMC.

Basile, who has operated Basile Vein Specialists for many years, has been named medical director of the Berkshire Vein Center at BMC. As a result, he is closing his Basile Vein Specialists practice and will provide advanced vein-care services at the Berkshire Vein Center beginning on March 2.

Basile had a busy practice in general and vascular surgery for more than 20 years at Berkshire Medical Center, and has also served as medical director of the Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine at BMC for several years. He established Basile Vein Specialists in 2010 and now brings his experience in vein care to the Berkshire Vein Center at BMC.

In providing vein-care services, Basile will be joined by Dr. Adam Bowling, a general surgeon at Berkshire Surgical Services of BMC who is currently working toward certification by the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine.

Basile received his medical degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo and completed his residency in general surgery at Berkshire Medical Center. He is certified as a vein specialist and as a registered vascular sonographer, including as a registered physician in vascular ultrasound interpretation.

The Berkshire Vein Center is located in the BMC Medical Arts Complex, 777 North St., Pittsfield, fourth floor. For an appointment with Basile, ask your physician for a referral or call the Berkshire Vein Center at (413) 445-6422.

HCN News & Notes

PALMER — Baystate Health’s Senior Class will hold a free seminar on Monday, March 30 titled “Hearing Loss and Balance Care.” The event will be held from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in the Snow Conference Room at Baystate Wing Hospital, 40 Wright St., Palmer.

“Hearing loss by itself doesn’t cause balance problems, but hearing loss can occur together with balance-impairment symptoms and can indicate problems with the inner ear and vestibular system,” said Susan Fontaine, senior coordinator of Loyalty Programs at Baystate Health. “It’s important to also know that a balance disorder may occur in different situations and may have various causes.”

The program will be offered by audiologist Deborah Stroetzel and Lori Manseau, physical therapist and manager of Baystate Rehabilitation Care at Baystate Wing Hospital. Together, they will discuss hearing loss, from diagnosis to treatment, and vestibular problems such as vertigo and inner-ear issues that affect balance, and how both are treated.

Baystate Health Senior Class is a free loyalty program dedicated to health and wellness, offered exclusively for men and women ages 55 and over.

The “Hearing Loss and Balance Care” seminar with Stroetzel and Manseau is offered at no cost, and refreshments will be served. Registration is required by calling (413) 794-5200 or visiting hearingloss-andbalance.eventbrite.com.

For more information about Baystate’s loyalty programs, including Baystate Health Every Woman and Senior Class, visit baystatehealth.org/loyalty.

HCN News & Notes

SPRINGFIELD — Hanger Clinic, a local patient-care provider that empowers people with custom-designed orthotic and prosthetic solutions, recently received the 2019 Excellence Award for Operations from the management of its parent company, Hanger Inc.

This annual award recognizes Hanger Clinic locations that have attained outstanding operating results, while providing superior clinical care and exceptional patient experiences. It’s awarded to about 1% of Hanger Clinic’s approximately 800 patient-care locations in 47 states and the District of Columbia. 

“The Hanger Clinic Excellence Award is one of the highest honors our patient care clinics can earn, and this team is most deserving of this recognition,” Hanger Clinic President Sam Liang said. “Their professionalism, clinical expertise, and dedication to providing the best possible patient-centered care are changing lives every day.”

In addition to the clinic as a whole receiving the 2019 Excellence Award for operations, Clinic Manager Maggie Baumer was personally recognized with a 2019 J.E. Hanger Award for Collaboration.

Named for Hanger’s founder, the first amputee of the Civil War, the J.E. Hanger Awards are the company’s highest level of employee recognition. Baumer was nominated and selected to receive the award for her efforts in a number of areas, including leading her team in Springfield, managing Hanger Clinic’s involvement in the Boston-area Design Museum exhibit on the design and craft of prosthetics, and collaborating across the orthotics and prosthetics industry with organizations including the Amputee Coalition, the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Assoc., and the National Assoc. for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics, where she serves as a board member.

Daily News HCN News & Notes

LONGMEADOW — The Bay Path University board of trustees announced today that Sandra Doran has been selected by unanimous vote to become the sixth president of Bay Path effective June 30. She will succeed Carol Leary, who retires in June following her 25-year presidency of Bay Path.

Doran’s appointment is the culmination of a comprehensive, 10-month, national search process to recruit, in board chair Jonathan Besse’s words, “the candidate whose experience, energy, and vision will build on the mission-driven and innovative legacy of Bay Path and propel our university into the future.”

“Sandy Doran is a charismatic leader who cares deeply about women’s education and is passionate about access to education and student success,” Besse said. “She has an impressive and broad background in a variety of complex organizations, all of which flourished greatly under her leadership.”

Doran is currently president of Salem Academy and College in Winston-Salem, N.C.   As president, she led an inclusive and aggressive strategic planning process that resulted in a transformation of the college as evidenced by unprecedented growth in enrollment and fundraising.

 “I am humbled by the trust the board has placed in me to continue the spirit of innovation here at Bay Path,” Doran said.  “The visionary nature of President Leary is inspiring and unprecedented in higher education, and I look forward to working with the Bay Path faculty and staff to build on her legacy. Serving our students, and providing them with a superior learning experience, gives us all great joy. I look forward to engaging with all members of our community, students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and our business and philanthropic partners.”

Doran holds a juris doctor degree from the Syracuse University College of Law and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Southern Methodist University.

Before serving at Salem, she was CEO at Castle Point Learning Systems (CPLS), a company that develops innovative teaching and learning technologies incorporating artificial intelligence and adaptive learning algorithms to provide better student outcomes in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Prior to her position at CPLS, she was president of the American College of Education in Indianapolis, where she grew the organization into the fifth-largest graduate school of education in the country, serving more than 5,000 adult and non-traditional students.

Her professional experience also includes positions at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey as an entrepreneur-in-residence, as well as at the New England Board of Higher Education as national policy director. Early in her legal career, she transitioned into higher education, joining Lesley University in Cambridge in 2004 as chief of staff, vice president, and general counsel.

Doran currently serves as chair of the board for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation and on the board of the Online Learning Consortium. She was named the Triad Business Journal’s Most Admired CEO, and Power Player of 2019.

According to Patricia Pierce, immediate past chair of Bay Path University and co-chair, along with Besse, of the presidential search committee, Doran’s involvement with national organizations and her entrepreneurial leadership give her a first-hand understanding of the challenges faced by higher education. “Sandy is drawn to Bay Path for all the right reasons, and she is the right candidate to forge an exciting and leading-edge strategy for the university’s future.”

Daily News HCN News & Notes

NORTH ADAMS — Jasmine Rivera-Boucher has been promoted to director of Adult Foster Care (AFC) and Shared Living (SL) services at BFAIR.

The director is responsible for the day-to-day operations of both programs, the development and implementation of the AFC/SL, accreditation, policies, and procedures as well as the fiscal administration of the AFC department. The director ensures that all funders’ regulations are met, which includes oversight of the referral and intake process in collaboration with the Department of Developmental Services, the Department of Mental Health, and other funding and referral sources. 

According to Michelle Carleton, vice president of BFAIR’s Residential Services, “Jasmine’s knowledge, energy, and enthusiasm for BFAIR’s AFC and Shared Living services made her the perfect choice for this well-deserved promotion.”

Prior to her promotion from assistant director, Rivera-Boucher worked at the Key Program in Pittsfield and graduated from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts with a degree in psychology. She also holds a degree in gerontology from Maria College and certification as dementia friend trainer.

HCN News & Notes

LONGMEADOW — How do you ask for help? When it comes to physical health — perhaps you twist an ankle, come down with the flu, or have trouble regulating your blood pressure — the answer is simple for most people. You call or visit a doctor, and you ask them to help you feel better. But when it comes to mental health, there is often a stigma around admitting when something isn’t right and reaching out for help.

Sara Kendall, MSW, LICSW, and Kimberley Lee, both of the Mental Health Association, will be on the Bay Path University campus to talk about how to ask for help, and also how to support others in your life who may need help, but aren’t asking for it. Their simple approach of ‘ask, support, and recommend’ is geared toward individuals who want to be able to reach out and support, but aren’t trained counselors and may not feel prepared to do so.

This free event, scheduled for March 5 at 7 p.m., is open to the public, and will be held at Breck Suite in Wright Hall, Bay Path University, 588 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow. For more information or to register, visit baypath.edu/asksupportrecommend.

HCN News & Notes

HOLYOKE — Rosemarie Ansel, executive director of River Valley Counseling Center (RVCC), has announced Kelly Gloster as its senior grants director. In this new role, she will oversee all grant programs to ensure the organization’s funded programs are compliant with grant rules and regulations based on the terms and conditions set by each funding organization. Gloster is also the program director for both River Valley Counseling Center’s School-Based Health Centers and HIV/AIDS Project.

“I have a particular interest in maximizing grant dollars to both better serve clients and achieve program efficiencies,” Gloster said. “My goals are to bring transparency to the grant-compliance activities, such as chart and documentation standards, data collection, and reporting requirements. I will also be looking to increase grant funding for River Valley Counseling Center programs, as we continue to serve the mental-health needs of our community.”

Prior to joining RVCC, Gloster was an assistant vice president of Grants and Government Relations at Landmark College in Vermont. She brings more than 20 years of grant-writing and grant-administration experience, and owned her own grant consultancy. She maintains a certificate in financial research administration. She also has extensive experience in the nonprofit and mental-health sectors, having worked as a foster-care supervisor, residential case manager, and crisis hotline counselor.

“We are fortunate to have an experienced grant writer joining our team as River Valley Counseling Center continues to grow as a nonprofit behavioral-health organization serving the Pioneer Valley,” Ansel said.

Gloster received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UMass Amherst and a master’s degree in social work planning, policy, and administration from Boston College.

HCN News & Notes

SPRINGFIELD — Health New England has been recognized as one of the 2019 finalists of the Healthiest Employers of Massachusetts, a nationally recognized awards program powered by the Springbuk Health Intelligence Platform.

Applicants to the Healthiest Employers awards program were evaluated across six key categories, representing a holistic view of employee well-being: culture and leadership commitment, foundational components, strategic planning, communication and marketing, programming and interventions, and reporting and analytics. All companies that applied to the awards program were ranked according to the proprietary Healthiest Employers Index, a 1-100 rubric for employee well-being programming.

Ranked second in the 100- to 499-employee size category in Massachusetts, Health New England was honored for its commitment to employee health and corporate health programming. As an award finalist, Health New England has demonstrated a strong commitment to the health and well-being of its team members.

“We are honored and excited that Health New England is being recognized for the work we do to empower our associates to make positive changes in their health journeys,” said Katie Bruno, Public Health and Wellness program manager at Health New England. “We strive to improve the health and lives of the people in our communities, and we bring that same mission to our worksite wellness program. My team, in collaboration with our wellness committee, implements engaging, innovative, and meaningful programs that support our associates’ health needs.”

Health New England offers traditional wellness programs that allow employees to partake in short-term programs individually or with a team, and identifies ways to encourage long-term behavior change by building a work culture that supports overall health. This includes leadership support, internal partners, mindfulness training, health coaching, flexible work hours and location, and increased benefits and rewards.

“We congratulate Health New England for their efforts to make workplace health a top priority for their organization and their team members,” said Rod Reasen, co-founder and CEO of Springbuk. “Each year, it’s our privilege at Springbuk to recognize the best of the best in corporate health through the Healthiest Employers awards program. Across the nation, we’re encouraged by the tremendous efforts of corporate health leaders proactively investing in the well-being of their employee population.”

HCN News & Notes

SPRINGFIELD — The Edvocate, an online education magazine, has named American International College (AIC) among the best colleges and universities for people with disabilities.

The Edvocate highlighted institutions that have multiple programs, policies, and measures in place to help people with disabilities succeed in higher education. AIC placed in the top 10.

“The Supportive Learning Services (SLS) program at American International College provides professional tutoring services to students, as well as assistance with study skills, organization, and time management,” the magazine noted. “Students can also take advantage of the Center for Accessibility Services and Academic Accommodations (CASAA), which provides both academic and physical accommodations.”

CASAA provides resources, training, and direct services to ensure people with disabilities have a greater opportunity to achieve their goals, while SLS is a fee-based program that helps students with learning challenges achieve their dream of completing college successfully. The second of its kind in the country, SLS celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2018. This comprehensive program works with the whole student academically, socially, and emotionally, by providing one-on-one tutorial assistance in addition to skills and content workshops designed to fit the unique needs of each student. In addition to helping students hone academic skills, SLS staff can assist students with organizational skills and time-management strategies that can help them modify their learning environment and maximize their strengths.

“We are pleased that the commitment of the college to provide access and opportunity for every student is recognized,” said April Voltz, AIC’s dean of Academic Success. “American International College has long appreciated that people learn differently and have varying needs in the pursuit of their education. Learning specialists in the Supportive Learning Services program provide professional tutoring and academic coaching tailored to the learning style of the individual student. The Center for Accessibility Services and Academic Accommodations collaborates with members of the institution’s diverse community to ensure that all aspects of campus life — learning, working, and living — are universally accessible.”

HCN News & Notes

SOUTH HADLEY — DAISA Enterprises, a food-systems and community health strategy firm based in South Hadley, was selected by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to design and facilitate a convening of Healthy Children and Families grantees for 2020.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), based in Princeton, N.J., is the largest philanthropic foundation in the U.S. focused solely on health, striving to advance policy, system, and environmental changes that create the conditions to foster families’ opportunities to promote healthy child development. The Healthy Children and Families convening will be a forum for sharing lessons and leveraging insights among grantees, partners, stakeholders, and RWJF staff around strategies to achieve this goal and prioritize health equity. More than 100 health leaders are expected to attend this event this spring or summer.

DAISA Enterprises works at the intersection of food, health, and economic and community development, building cutting-edge initiatives and enterprises. It has quickly established itself as a key partner to national health-based philanthropic foundations, helping them design and implement field-building events and initiatives.

“DAISA is honored to support the work of RWJF grantees, help them connect and learn from each other, and build a greater movement for the health of children in our country,” CEO Daniel Ross said. “This is among the most powerful work we can do.”