In 1975, a Great Barrington pediatrician named Dr. Thomas Whitfield was seeing children show up at his practice for their kindergarten physicals having not seen a doctor since birth or infancy. Children lacked immunizations. Many had medical problems and delays in language, social, and cognitive skills due to isolation. In response, he founded Children’s Health Program to bring health care to rural children, to offer support services to their families.
He and his staff traveled back roads in a station wagon, looking for houses with toys outside and diapers on the line, to find children who needed care and to connect with their parents. Shepherded by Dr. Whitfield and Children’s Health Program’s first executive director, Linda Small, the agency went on to create a range of parenting support and childhood education services (the Family Support Network). CHP launched a WIC (Women, Infants and Children) nutrition program, and formed the First Steps program to bring early intervention therapy to children with developmental delays or disabilities.
As the needs of the Berkshire community grew, CHP responded — and grew as well. In 2000, after 25 years of serving only children, Children’s Health Program made a giant leap and obtained federal designation for its health center, opening the doors to adults. Due to a shortage of health care services accessible to Berkshire county residents, the newly re-named Community Health Programs’ (CHP) caseload grew virtually overnight from 1,500 to over 4,000. Many of CHP’s new adult patients had been childhood pediatric patients Children’s Health Program. And then…
- In 2007, CHP assumed ownership and responsibility for Barrington OB/GYN, a thriving practice in Great Barrington providing comprehensive women’s health care services to women of all ages.
- In 2008, the Neighborhood Health Center in Pittsfield transitioned to CHP ownership from Berkshire Health Systems, becoming CHP’s second health center.
- That same year, in response to the desperate need for accessible, affordable dental care in south Berkshire County, CHP opened the CHP Dental Center in Great Barrington.
- In an exciting development in 2009, CHP acquired nearly eight acres with three buildings on Stockbridge Road (Route 7) in Great Barrington, where CHP consolidated most South County programs into one health and wellness “home.”
- In 2012, Lee Family Practice joined CHP’s health network.
- In December of 2015, Adams Internists and North Adams Family Medicine joined the CHP team, expanding CHP’s network into Northern Berkshire.
- In October of 2016, Neighborhood Dental Center in Pittsfield joined CHP, as did the Berkshire Medical Center medical and dental residency program.
- In August of 2017, CHP gained its first pediatric medicine practice with the addition of Berkshire Pediatrics, a longstanding Pittsfield practice with some 12,000 patients.
At this writing, CHP is the health care home to more than 32,000 Berkshire region residents. Our Family Services program continues to impact the lives of hundreds of young families throughout Southern Berkshire County.
We are grateful for the generous, continuing support of individuals, corporations, foundations and other funding sources which enables us to continue to meet the needs of our community.