NORTH ADAMS — Community Health Programs has officially taken over two newly renovated Northern Berkshire physician's practices this month.
The practice formerly known as Northern Berkshire Family Medicine on State Road in North Adams has moved into an updated space on the third floor of Berkshire Medical Center Northern Berkshire Campus' main building. It is now named "CHP North Adams."
Adams Internists on Depot Street in Adams will now be known as CHP Adams Internists and also received extensive upgrades.
With the addition of two pre-existing Northern Berkshire practices into its network, CHP has taken an additional 5,000 patients into its network and hopes to bring in more. The Great Barrington-based nonprofit already operates health centers in Great Barrington, Lee, and Pittsfield.
By coming under the CHP umbrella, the practices become federally qualified health centers. The transition allows doctors at both practices to utilize the administrative capabilities of CHP and increases the area's ability to recruit new doctors, according to officials.
In a press release issued Friday, CHP announced that efforts are already underway to add two physicians to the staff at CHP's North Adams location.
Federally qualified health centers receive better reimbursement rates for treatment provided to Medicare and Medicaid patients, an attractive quality to prospective physicians, according to CHP Interim CEO Lia Spiliotes. Because physicians at these centers are federal employees, they are not subject to malpractice lawsuits and therefore are not required to purchase malpractice insurance, according to the department of Health and Human Services.
Spiliotes could not put a specific timeline on the hiring process, but is confident that CHP is capable of attracting physicians to the region.
Although there are no current plans to add doctors to the Adams practice, Spiliotes said CHP will continue to monitor the practice's patient volumes and staffing needs.
The North Adams practice is currently led by Dr. Anping Han and Marguerite Vardman, a nurse practitioner; CHP Adams Internists will be operated by internal medicine physicians Allen Joslin, Chi Cheung, Benjamin Rudin and nurse practitioners Kaitlyn Roberts and Candice Smith.
Beyond just changing the name of two facilities, Berkshire Health Systems partnered with CHP throughout the process and invested $300,000 in renovations to each practice, according to BHS spokesman Michael Leary. Berkshire Health Systems is the parent organization of Berkshire Medical Center.
"The two facilities are being renovated to modernize the office spaces and ensure they are equipped with the latest technology that physicians would use in an office setting, including information technology and electronic medical record systems, and also to be sure there is adequate space for the expansion of each practice to include newly recruited physicians," Leary said.
CHP had explored expanding into the Northern Berkshires since 2011, according to the press release. Following the closure of North Adams Regional Hospital in 2014, it partnered with Berkshire Health Systems to create a presence in the region.
Leary could not comment on BHS' plans for the former doctor's building, which sits on Harriman-West Airport property that is managed by the city's airport commission.