Clinic on wheels seeks to improve access to care, patient health The Berkshire Fallon Health Collaborative (BFHC), a MassHealth Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Partnership Plan, Yesterday announced the launch of a new state-of-the-art Mobile Health Unit (MHU) that will travel throughout Berkshire County, increasing outreach and bringing healthcare directly to patients.

In a press release from the Fallon Health Collaborative President and CEO of Fallon Health  Richard Burke said

One of the advantages of the ACO model of care is that we are afforded the flexibility to be creative in addressing the needs of the populations we serve. The Mobile Health Unit will be a great asset to the communities in Berkshire County as it complements our combined commitment to reduce fragmented care, improve health outcomes and contain costs,Fallon Health is proud to help our shared members navigate the complex system of healthcare and connect them with the proper medical and social resources in a welcoming atmosphere.

David Phelps, President, and CEO of Berkshire Health Systems said

Living in the Berkshires offers a multitude of benefits, including stunning physical beauty, world class art, and the pleasures of country life. It also offers health care challenges,unique to a rural environment. Transportation is among the top challenges we face in the county, which is why we are making it a priority to bring care to the patients, instead of having the patients come to us, noting that mobile clinics are making health care accessible for some of the most difficult to reach groups in both rural and urban communities in the country, according to a recent Impact Report by Harvard Medical School.

Unveiled during a ceremony at CHP Community Health Center in Great Barrington, the 40-foot vehicle contains two full exam rooms, an intake area, and a bathroom. It will be staffed by a Coordinator, Nurse Practitioner, and Medical Assistant and offer a variety of services from primary care, sick visits, preventative health screenings, ophthalmology and social services.

left to right:  Michelle Derr, Community Health Programs’ director of WIC and family services, Richard Burke, President & CEO of Fallon Health, Ed Hornstein, M.D., Chair, Partnership for Health in the Berkshires, Darlene Rodowicz, CFO & Treasurer of Berkshire Health Systems, Lia Spiliotes, CEO of Community Health Programs and Katie McSheffrey, Community Health Programs’ Mobile Health Unit coordinator.

Patients with MassHealth ACO Berkshire Fallon Health Collaborative insurance will be able to schedule appointments at the MHU’s location ahead of time through the Community Health Programs (CHP) electronic medical record (EMR) system or with a walk-in visit. Dates and locations for the MHU will also be available via an online calendar, social media, local newspapers, and each CHP practice will have access to the schedule.

The hours of operation will vary to fit the needs of the community such as evenings, early mornings and weekends. MHU staff will also provide basic care, including blood pressure checks, flu shot clinics, immunization clinics, vision screenings and screenings for chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.

The unit will also offer social services through such organizations as Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Nutrition Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Fuel Assistance and licensed social workers.

Lia Spiliotes, CEO of Community Health Programs said.

The Berkshire Fallon Health Collaborative Mobile Health Unit is unique in that it offers such a broad range of health care and social services, at accessible locations and times for the community,” said Lia Spiliotes, CEO of Community Health Programs. “Our community members deserve to have a high level of care no matter what ZIP code they are in. And under this innovative model, they can. Community Health Programs is pleased to be part of this important effort that will surely improve the lives of many of our neighbors. BFHC is made up of Berkshire Health Systems, its Physician-Hospital Organization called the Partnership for Health in the Berkshires, Community Health Programs and Fallon Health.

The creation of BFHC is part of the state’s reform of MassHealth to include ACOs in which physicians, hospitals, insurers and other health care providers work together to provide integrated care with the goals of improving health outcomes and containing costs.