Public Health

Initiatives

BOH Job Aids

The Board of Health Job Aids Initiative provides a comprehensive collection of resources to support Boards of Health in developing and maintaining their structure, policies & procedures, protocols, and operational standards.

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Berkshire Overdose Addiction Prevention Collaborative

The purpose of the Berkshire Overdose Addiction Prevention Collaborative (BOAPC) is to implement local policy, practice, systems, and/or environmental changes to prevent the misuse of opioids and to reduce the risk of overdose and related harms from substance use throughout the 32 municipalities in Berkshire County

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Berkshire Public Health Alliance

The mission of the Berkshire Public Health Alliance (BPHA) is to promote, preserve and enhance Berkshire County’s public health by meeting community needs, improving capabilities and providing equitable access to affordable public health services

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COVID-19

On March 29, 2023, Governor Healey signed into law a supplemental budget bill which, among other things, extends the temporary provisions pertaining to the Open Meeting Law to March 31, 2025.

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Food Safety

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, on behalf of the Berkshire Public Health Alliance, is working together to improve food safety in the region. Many foodborne illnesses...

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Influenza

Flu Surveillance The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) produce weekly influenza surveillance reports: CDC Weekly U.S....

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Public Health Emergency Preparedness Planning

The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission acts as a fiduciary agent for emergency planning and response activities.

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Tickborne Illness

Tickborne illness dashboard that is updated weekly throughout tick season.

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Projects

413Cares Regional Partnership Project

BRPC has joined with the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts to design, promote, and train local Berkshire organizations in the use of a new online resource directory covering the four western MA counties, 413Cares (https://www.413cares.org/).

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Age Friendly Berkshires: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Project

Support local acceleration of age- and dementia-friendly diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work with our partners, assess the needs of older adults, and pilot the use of the Healthy Aging for All Planning Guide.

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Alliance Food Safety Program Advancement

Berkshire Public Health Alliance staff will work on FDA Food Standards 1, 2, 3, 4,5, 6, 7, & 9.

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Alliance Food Safety Program Online Permitting

Berkshire Public Health Alliance will hire a part-time Food Program Coordinator to maintain and work on FDA Food Standards 1, 2, 3, 4,5, 6, 7, & 9.

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Berkshire County Boards of Health Association (BCBOHA) Support Services

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) staff will continue to provide services to Berkshire County Boards of Health Association (BCBOHA) programs such as Septic Installer Certification Courses, Chokesaver to restaurants, and other programs/services as needed or requested by the Berkshire County Boards of Health and the BCBOHA Executive Committee.

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Berkshire County Focus Group for Current or Former Tobacco Users

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission staff assisted the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts in coordinating a focus group, including assisting in participant recruitment and hosting the virtual meeting for Berkshire County residents who currently or previously have used tobacco products. The purpose of the group was to understand the experiences and perspectives regarding tobacco access and use, and about options for trying to quit. This focus group was held on Wednesday, April 3rd.

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Berkshire Early Childhood Community Circle (BE3C)

This BE3C project is basing its collaborative work on the shared belief that when we as a community prioritize the health and wellbeing of Women and Girls of Color, that the wellbeing of all people will improve. With this knowledge, the BE3C partners, aided by BOAPC and WOCHE, will build a new way of doing substance misuse prevention planning: By creating a culturally-responsive, safe space where community members can come together to share knowledge, stories, and experiences, build new relationships, and create tools to address the identified needs of Girls of Color ages 5-11 in the community of Pittsfield.

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Berkshire Post Overdose Program and Community Outreach Specialists

The project builds on existing capacities to expand new and ongoing community-centered, field-based interventions to address the Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Lifecycle of prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery in Berkshire County, MA. The project contains three coordinated, regionally specific (North, Central, and South) field programs that reduce the risk of harm from substance use, decrease arrests, and improve health outcomes through field outreach to higher-risk individuals, outreach to & engagement with communities disproportionately affected by substances, along with training and public communications to decrease stigma and increase engagement with services.

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Berkshire-Hampden Training Hub

This grant is designed to create a comprehensive training program aimed at enhancing the skills and capabilities of local health staff. The training hubs serve to standardize the training and qualifications of public health agents and inspectors across the state, ensuring that they meet established workforce standards. By providing hands-on training experiences and educational resources, the training hubs aim to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of public health inspections and services. Ultimately, the goal is to enhance public health outcomes and promote the well-being of communities throughout Massachusetts. This grant has enabled the Berkshire Public Health Alliance to hire one full-time and two part-time trainers, as well as a part-time administrative manager. Additionally, it has allowed the Alliance to provide food safety trainings to health agents across the state.

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COVID-19 and Influenza Vaccine Uptake Initiative

This project will allow the BRPC Public Health Program to increase vaccination among local residents who are elderly, disabled, home bound, or otherwise unable to travel, to receive their vaccines for COVID-19 and influenza either through home visits from our Public Health Nurses or through assistance with transportation to vaccination sites. The project will also formalize a sustainable relationship with our partners so that these services can be provided in the future as well.

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Coalition for Local Public Health

This funding will allow the Public Health Program Manager to act as the Western Mass Public Health Association (WMPHA) representative to the Coalition for Local Public Health (CLPH). In addition, BRPC will help develop a simple website for the use of WMPHA.

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Community Health Improvement Plan

This grant will support the County Health Initiative (CHI) in developing and implementing a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) for Berkshire County.

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Equity in Emergency Management Consultant

This project will allow the BRPC Public Health Program to conduct a needs assessment relevant to improving equity in emergency management planning, preparedness, and response in Western Massachusetts.

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Local Health Support — Covid-19 Contact Tracing

This grant will allow the Berkshire Public Health Alliance to hire an epidemiologist and 1.7 Community Health Workers (CHW) to assist with COVID-19 contact tracing and other associated tasks.

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Medical Reserve Corps—Berkshire

The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission in coordination with the Western Massachusetts Medical Reserve Corps Advisory Group (MAG) serves as the fiduciary for the Berkshire Medical Reserve Corps (BMRC). The Berkshire MRC's mission is to build resilient and healthy communities by recruiting, training and deploying MRC volunteers.

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Medical Reserve Corps—Franklin

Fairview Hospital, under an agreement with Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC), acting as fiscal host for Berkshire County Boards of Health Association (BCBOHA) acting as the Berkshire County Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coalition will administer the Franklin County Medical Reserve Corps, as well as the Berkshire County Medical Reserve Corps.

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New England Rural Health Association - Rural Vaccine Equity Initiative

This project is focused on the rural municipalities in central Berkshire County (Windsor, Washington, Dalton, Becket, Richmond, Lanesborough, Peru, and Hinsdale). The initial phase of this project will focus on meeting the immediate needs surrounding the response to COVID-19 possibly including assessment, COVID-19 education and outreach, information dissemination, supporting current and future vaccination needs, and implementing other state resources. The second phase will focus on supporting resiliency and addressing the factors that created poor outcomes during the pandemic, with a focus on a specific project or projects that aim to eliminate or reduce a barrier or factor.

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Opioid Abuse Prevention

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC), through the Berkshire Public Health Alliance is coordinating the Berkshire Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative. The purpose of the Berkshire Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative (BOAPC) is to implement local policy, practice, systems, and/or environmental changes to prevent the misuse and abuse of opioids and to prevent and reduce unintentional deaths and non-fatal hospital events associated with opioid poisonings throughout the 32 municipalities in Berkshire County.

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Pittsfield Gray to Green

These project funds are provided through the Massachusetts Healthy Community Fund and are committed to removing barriers to health, incuding structural and institutional racism, poverty and other power inbalances, through community-centered policies, systems and environmental changes approaches. The Pittsfield Gray to Green Project will engage the community and prioritize green planning in a social and racial justice context. Partners include Habitat for Humanity and Working Cities, 18 Degrees and the City of Pittsfield.

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Prevention and Treatment of Hepatitis C

This funding is to support public health activities related to the prevention and treatment of hepatitis C (HCV). BOAPC will reconvene the county-wide hepatitis C working group, work with clinical partners to train more primary care physicians/clinical partners in providing treatment for HCV, and will facilitate two in-person Community of Practice dinners for clinicians in the Berkshires interested in learning more about HCV, a fall county-wide 'HCV Treatment Update' for any interested providers to learn about current practices and changes to HCV treatment, and a training for medical residents at BMC in October 2023.

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Public Health Emergency Preparedness Planning

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) acts as the fiduciary agent for the Berkshire Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coalition. Public Health Emergency Preparedness Funding supports local Boards of Health in Berkshire County to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies and disasters from a public health and health equity perspective. Berkshire County Boards of Health Association (BCBOHA) acts as the emergency preparedness coalition for Berkshire County.

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Public Health Excellence for Shared Services

This grant is designed to encourage municipalities to share public health services and build toward a more comprehensive set of shared public health services. It allows the Berkshire Public Health Alliance to staff a full-time Public Health Nurse and community educator, a part-time Administrative Manager, and a full-time Health Inspector. Additionally, the Alliance provides numerous vaccination clinics, subsidized and free training opportunities, and other educational offerings and services for PHE members.

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Racial Equity Capacity Building Phase 2

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission will engage in the second phase of the Racial Equity Capacity Building (RECB) pilot program with Public Health Institute of Western MA (PHIWM) and the Women of Color Health Equity Collective (WOCHEC). Within this project, BRPC will work with WOCHEC to review internal and external policies, attend Advisory Board Meetings, and attend a summit for the program in June 2023.

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Regional Food System

Implementation and Expansion of the “Strengthening the Berkshire County Regional Food System with Locally-Sourced Mobile Farmers Market to Serve Low Access Populations” (Berkshire Mobile Farmers Market) project will build on prior and ongoing collaborative efforts to expand local food production and delivery systems as well as bring the benefits of fresh and healthy locally grown food to under served communities and individuals. By increasing the regional food supply network, the Berkshire Mobile Farmers Market Project will improve community resiliency by diminishing our reliance on long-distance food chains, improve equitable access to local, healthy food options, especially for low-income, remote, and rural families, educate the public on the availability and benefits of local foods, and mitigate the stigma of using SNAP benefits and food pantries. The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission joins Berkshire Bounty, Berkshire Grown, and the Southern Berkshire Rural Health Network and partners with Berkshire United Way and Community Health Programs in this partnership. Each partner addresses a distinct food production, storage, purchase, and distribution aspect.

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Regional Public Health Inspection Program

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) is serving as the fiduciary agent to the Berkshire Public Health Alliance to implement a regional Public Health Inspection Program in selected Alliance towns.

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Regional Public Health Nursing Program

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) is serving as the fiduciary agent to the Berkshire Public Health Alliance to implement a regional Public Health Nursing Program in selected Alliance towns.

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Root Cause Equity in Heat Emergencies Project

This project aims to understand and address the root causes of disparities during heat emergencies.

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Substance Misuse Prevention Implementation

MassCALL3B supports efforts to prevent misuse of substances of first use among youth in communities with existing capacity, infrastructure, and experience implementing prevention programs and practices. Through the grant, BRPC and the Pittsfield Youth Prevention Coalition, with direct input from local students, will build programming that reduces the use of alcohol, nicotine, and cannabis among youth.

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Reports

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