PITTSFIELD — The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) announced Ilana Steinhauer, executive director of Volunteers in Medicine, as the 2023 Charles Kusik Award winner.
The Kusik Award recognizes outstanding contributions to Berkshire County. Steinhauer has led Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) since 2014 as executive director and director of Medical Services. Under her leadership, VIM has increasingly considered the social determinants of health (housing, education, food security, employment, childcare, etc.) as key components of an individual or family’s health.
The Charles Kusik Award was instituted to recognize projects, groups, or individuals who have made outstanding contributions to planning in Berkshire County. BRPC inaugurated the Kusik Award in 1996 to honor Charles Kusik, who, for more than three decades, placed his expert imprint on the zoning bylaws of nearly every town in the Berkshires as a volunteer ‘citizen planner.’
Steinhauer will be recognized at the joint BRPC and Berkshire County Selectman’s Assoc. Annual Meeting & Reception on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 4 p.m. at Berkshire Hills Country Club in Pittsfield. Tickets cost $25 per person and are available online at www.berkshireplanning.org or by calling (413) 442-1521, ext. 10.
“Volunteers in Medicine plays an important role in Berkshire County, which has become pivotal for the well-being of all Berkshire County residents under Ilana’s strong leadership and guidance,” BRPC Executive Director Tom Matuszko said.
Volunteers in Medicine currently serves 1,700 uninsured patients, 90% of whom are immigrants. Their patient population has grown rapidly in recent years, with 400 new patients in 2022 and an expected 500 new patients in 2023. VIM’s patients range from newly arrived asylum seekers who need life-saving care to veterans who need dental work to essential workers who have lived here for decades. VIM manages this patient load with 17 staff members and more than 170 clinical and non-clinical volunteers who donate more than 10,000 hours annually.
Steinhauer first moved to the Berkshires in 2006 after graduating from Wesleyan University. She began interning at Volunteers in Medicine and quickly realized she wanted to do patient care with this population. After taking prerequisites at Berkshire Community College, she moved to the Boston area to complete her nurse practitioner degree and began her career as a nurse with the Medical Group/Harvard Vanguard Associates in Beverly. In 2014, she moved with her family back to the Berkshires to become executive director at VIM. Bilingual in Spanish, she continues to provide direct patient care in addition to being the executive director.