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Sisters of Providence Health Systems receives $1 million from fund

SPRINGFIELD Sisters of Providence Health System (SPHS), on Aug. 2, received $1,598,157 from the state Distressed Provider Expendable Trust Fund. SPHS was allotted $4 million last year and received an initial payment earlier this year. The check was delivered through the office of Sen. Michael Knapik, R-Westfield.

Vincent J. McCorkle, president and chief executive officer of Sisters of Providence Health Systems, credited the advocacy of the Western Massachusetts legislative delegation in obtaining the funding.

"The legislators have recognized the importance of the services we provide to the community. They have joined together, stepping up to ensure these services are preserved for Western Massachusetts," McCorkle said.

The money will help offset significant losses at Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke and will help with the addition of 30 new detox beds, including a special unit for women.

Among its substance abuse and mental health services, Providence Behavioral Health Hospital is the only inpatient provider of behavioral treatment services to children and to seniors west of Route 128. Children as young as four, and elders into their 80s are treated there. But providing the necessary services to residents sometimes means the services are provided at an operating loss. Last year, more than $18.2 million in uncompensated care was provided by SPHS.

Sisters of Providence Health System is a 962-bed health system that includes both Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke and Mercy Medical Center in Springfield.

"Mercy and Providence are recognized as among 16 hospitals in the state that take on the lion's share of care for the poor," said McCorkle. "We are a safety net for the state's low-income population. In designating this money, the Legislature and Administration are partnering with us to preserve the vital services we provide in our communities," McCorkle said.