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Having worked for Berkshire Health since 1986, Ruth Blodgett was promoted to Senior Vice President of Planning and Development in 2001 and is also now serving as Vice President of Physician Services.
Berkshire Health System (BHS) in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts consists of Berkshire Medical Center, Fairview Hospital, Berkshire Visiting Nurse Association and Berkshire Faculty Services. They employ 4,000 employees and more than 400 medical providers. Their mission is to improve the health of all people in the Berkshires, regardless of their ability to pay.
Ruth’s passion for improving the health and the lives of the patients they serve inspired her to investigate integrative medicine. Ruth’s overarching goal is to create a strategic plan for Integrative Health (IH) services at BHS that utilizes the application of IH principles and services throughout the health system as a means to help transform BHS and facilitate its effectiveness in achieving the quadruple aim to create a healthier population and community.
“No one can afford the cost of healthcare today,” explains Ruth. “A staggering 75% of all health care spending in the U.S. can be traced to obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, alcohol consumption, poor diet, insufficient sleep and poor stress management. The good news is that these illnesses can be avoided, reduced, and even reversed by making healthier lifestyle choices. An Integrative Health approach can transform health and reduce the cost of healthcare.”
To achieve her goals, Ruth created a “Guiding Coalition” at BHS consisting of the COO, VP Acute Care, VP Integrative Care, VP Support Services, Director of Wellness, Medical Director Population Health, and Chairmen Behavioral Health plus a Naturopath and an integrative medicine oncologist. They first established the need, developed a vision and mission for what Integrative Healthcare would look like at BHS, created a value proposition, and then built a strategic plan that included a set of metrics to measure success. The team agreed to an initial focus on mindfulness to create a culture of health internally. Improving the health, wellbeing and performance of our BHS community is foundational to the ability to transform the health of others. And, as the largest employer in the region, BHS is a reflection of the larger community.
The implementation of the strategic plan is well underway at BHS with dual efforts for their staff and community. Some of the integrative offerings they have instituted for their clientele include yoga, mindfulness, lifestyle change, acupuncture for patients, as well as mindfulness mediation and yoga for clinical and administrative leadership. A 10-week program on mindfulness yoga for leadership in high conflict areas has proven especially successful.
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