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BHS In the Community

BHS Brings Mobile Outreach Van to the Community
December 20, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BERKSHIRE HEALTH SYSTEMS REACHES OUT TO THE COMMUNITY WITH MOBILE VAN

PITTSFIELD, MA – Berkshire Health Systems is reaching further out into the general and business community to provide essential health screenings and access to enrollment for health coverage through its new mobile van. The large vehicle, equipped with comfortable, state-of-the-art exam rooms, will be utilized by the community outreach programs of Berkshire Health Systems. The purchase of the mobile van and the costs associated with its use are funded through financial support from Berkshire Health Systems and an Essential Community Provider grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

The BHS Health and Wellness Community Outreach Van will be staffed and supported by members of BHS Accent on Health, Healthy Communities Access Program and Advocacy for Access, with a primary focus in the first year of providing access to health insurance enrollment and health screenings, assessing community health status, and connecting Berkshire residents to needed care. In the future, numerous other BHS programs will join in the community outreach effort and use the van to provide health education and screenings, worksite wellness, smoking cessation, diabetes education and nutrition services, to name a few.

“BHS has a strong tradition of outreach and providing specialized programs to connect with at-risk populations,” said David Phelps, President of Berkshire Health Systems. “Through the use of this new mobile van, we can remove barriers created by our large, primarily rural geography by expanding access to the new state healthcare reform program.”

The van will visit communities and businesses to assist uninsured and underinsured Berkshire residents with applications for the state’s Commonwealth Care program and MassHealth. The state’s new healthcare reform law mandates that everyone in the state be covered by some form of health insurance. With Berkshire County’s large, rural landscape, the mobile van will be a key factor in reaching residents in all areas of Central and South Berkshire County served by Berkshire Health Systems.

“This significant and important investment by Berkshire Health Systems and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts allows us to go where the people are, which makes it easier for our community to access care and health coverage,” said Ruth Blodgett, Senior Vice President of Planning and Development for BHS.

Berkshire Health Systems estimates that approximately 2,000 people will be served annually through 200 to 250 community and employer visits.

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