Our Opinion: A healthy CHP is critical to Berkshires

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The resignation of Bryan Ayars as CEO of Community Health Programs among indications of dissension is worrisome given CHP's considerable and growing importance.

In an editorial board meeting at The Berkshire Eagle, the CHP board of directors strongly denied the presence of a "toxic" environment at CHP but it is apparent that a poor relationship between staffers and Mr. Ayars necessitated a change at the top. The June dismissal of the human resources director which the board said is related to job performance not, as the HR director claims, because she raised concerns about alleged sexual harassment in the workplace, is worrisome also, but the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination will hash this out.

CHP received federal designation for its health center 15 years ago and the boards of organizations linked to government regulations are heavily bound by confidentiality agreements, which makes it difficult for them to defend themselves publicly. We don't doubt the board's assurances that it has been working to address problems within CHP, and the mutual agreement that Mr. Ayars leave CHP demonstrates that the board took the issues seriously.

Going forward under an interim director, the CHP board must resolve whatever communication issues and other problems trouble the nonprofit to one degree or another. CHP fills a huge health care cap in the Berkshires, with its unique mix of rural areas and small urban centers. This gap will increase, particularly because of the shortage of primary care physicians, and CHP will be asked to expand its services to meet demand. The entire county is invested in seeing CHP successfully resolve its internal issues in the weeks and months ahead while continuing to provide valuable care and prepare for even more critical role in the future.


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