Southcoast Health awarded $8 million from Massachusetts Health Policy Commission to address pressing healthcare needs in local communities

Funds allocated to continue work on behavioral health and diabetes care programs in region

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – Southcoast Health today announced that it was awarded an $8 million grant from the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC) as part of Phase 2 of the Community Hospital Acceleration, Revitalization, and Transformation Investments grant program (CHART).

“This is a great day for the South Coast region as this funding will allow us to continue to make great strides in developing concrete solutions for some of our communities’ most urgent healthcare concerns,” said Keith Hovan, President & CEO of Southcoast Health. “The need to provide more care for behavioral health and diabetes patients is prevalent not just in our region but also across the Commonwealth. I applaud and thank the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission and legislature for having the foresight to create a competitive grant program that assists community hospitals in addressing these critical issues.”

The CHART grant program was established by the Massachusetts HPC through the Commonwealth’s cost containment law, Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012, to enhance the delivery of efficient, effective care at community hospitals. The goal of the program is to promote care coordination, integration, and delivery transformations; advance electronic health records adoption and information exchange among providers; increase alternative payment methods and accountable care organizations; and enhance patient safety, access to behavioral health services, and coordination between hospitals and community-based providers and organizations.

“The Health Policy Commission’s groundbreaking $60 million in investments to 28 hospitals across the Commonwealth will improve community-based care for patients with complex social and medical needs and increase access to high quality behavioral health services,” said HPC’s Executive Director David Seltz. “Southcoast Health’s $8 million award will help meet the needs of Southeastern Massachusetts by focusing on integrating behavioral and physical health, enhancing care for socially and medical complex patients, and leveraging resources of community partners as well as cutting edge analytics to support Southcoast’s readiness for accountable care. I commend Southcoast Health for its commitment to transformation and look forward to partnering with them and the communities they serve in the years to come.”

Southcoast Health was identified through an application process that included 30 eligible community hospitals from across the Commonwealth.

“We are truly grateful for the significant investment that the Health Policy Commission is once again making in Southcoast Health. These additional resources will enable us to continue the vital work we are doing for our patients and our communities,” said Renee Clark, Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer for Southcoast Health. “To date with funds awarded through CHART, we have made great strides in enhancing care for our entire patient population, and in particular our behavioral health, diabetes and other chronic disease patients. Southcoast Health continues to identify key health issues and improve access to care across the region.”

Southcoast Health has committed to use the funds to continue its efforts to improve care in some of the region’s most pressing areas of need. These initiatives include the coordination and access to care for behavioral health patients, improved efficiency of emergency care, patient engagement of high-risk diabetes patients that incorporates them into a care management program, and the development and implementation of disease management registries.

“We are very excited that the CHART partnerships will continue to bring vital health resources into our communities, particularly concerning behavioral health” said Peter Georgeopoulos, President and CEO of the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center. “The recent work with the first CHART grant begins to address the need for better communication and integration of behavioral health services in our region. We look forward to the continued collaboration and progress with CHART 2.”

Rev. David Lima, Executive Director of the InterChurch Council and head of a regional Suicide Coalition, added: “CHART has helped Southcoast Health and its community partners to tackle very complex community issues, particularly those impacting behavioral health. We have been able to form some new alliances and open better channels of communication, and we are excited to be able to continue this important work.”

Through the grant awarded in CHART’s Phase 2, Southcoast Health is continuing its efforts which began with $1.1 million of support received in January 2014 as part of the program’s Phase 1. Twenty-eight acute care hospitals received CHART Phase 1 funding, and 30 acute care hospitals, varying in size and affiliation and located across the Commonwealth, were eligible to receive funds in Phase 2. The HPC made a total of $10 million available for Phase 1 and has made up to $60 million available for Phase 2, out of the $119.08 million in funding available through the CHART Investment Program over the next four years. Potential awards ranged from $65,000 to $500,000 in Phase 1, and up to $6 million per hospital in Phase 2.