Thursday February 21, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- A nursing program aimed at assisting towns with health services run by the Berkshire Public Health Alliance will expand its services thanks to $54,840 in state grant funding.

The Public Health Nursing Program, which already provides services to towns of Great Barrington, Egremont, and Mount Washington, could add three to six additional towns to its service area, according to Jennifer Kimball, spokeswoman of the alliance.

"We have been able to help many towns fulfill state mandates while maintaining community control over health and wellness of the community," Kimball said.

The nursing program, established last year, provides assistance to slim-staffed town health departments and committees in the form of wellness programs, blood pressure and flu clinics, and other services.

Kimball said the nursing program, which received $47,500 last year, would have continued regardless of the grant, although she said it would have been a challenge without the funding.

The grant funding was provided to the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, which manages finances for the alliance.

"[The alliance] want[s] to provide professional services for the towns to focus on policy recommendations rather than learn all the technical requirements," said Thomas Matuszko, assistant director at the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.

The program was one of 27 grants totaling $2.25 million in Community Innovation Challenge grants provided to incentivize and support innovative regionalization and other cost-savings initiatives.

The alliance has formed cooperative relationships with 21 towns.

To reach John Sakata:
jsakata@berkshireeagle.com
or (413)-496-6240