Business briefs: Employer confidence rises at year's end

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MASSACHUSETTS

Employer confidence rises at year's end

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts' Business Confidence Index gained 1.6 points in December, to increase to 62.2 and finish the year 3.6 points higher than 12 months ago.

The results were driven by brightening views of the U.S. economy and an increasingly bullish outlook among state manufacturers, according to AIM. Also, international trade tensions that had bothered employers for much of 2019 eased last month.

"Business confidence remained steady and strong throughout 2019 as employers saw underlying strength in the economy through sometimes distracting political uncertainties," said Raymond G. Torto, chief of AIM's board of economic advisers.

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The monthly AIM Index, based on a survey of more than 100 Massachusetts employers, is calculated on a 100-point scale, with 50 as neutral. Any reading above 50 is considered positive. The index has remained above 50 since October 2013.

BENNINGTON, Vt.

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Medical center earns top safety rating

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, which is part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, recently earned an "A" for hospital safety from The Leapfrog Group. The national distinction recognizes SVMC's achievements protecting patients from harm and providing safer health care.

The Leapfrog Group is an independent national watchdog organization driven by employers and other purchasers of health care. The organization is committed to improving health care quality and safety for consumers and purchasers.

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The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade assigns an "A," "B," "C." "D" or "F" grade to all general hospitals across the country based on their performance in preventing medical errors, injuries, accidents, infections and other harms to patients in their care.

Developed under the guidance of a national expert panel, the safety grade uses 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign grades to more than 2,600 U.S. acute-care hospitals twice each year.

BERKSHIRES

Organizations receive health grants

Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires in Great Barrington and Berkshire Health Systems' Operation Better Start are among 10 Massachusetts community-based organizations that recently received a total of $100,000 from Fallon Health of Worcester to address health care barriers in underserved communities. Fallon also has provided $10,000 to 56 community partners throughout the state through its Hunger Relief Initative. Those organizations include Elder Services of Berkshire County in Pittsfield; The Nutrition Center in Great Barrington; and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in Hatfield.


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