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Baystate gives Greenfield $150K for broadband

GREENFIELD — The parent of Baystate Franklin Medical Center has given Greenfield a three-year $150,000 donation to help connect buildings throughout the town with broadband Internet.

Mayor William Martin said he’ll be presenting a detailed plan to the Town Council over the next few months on how to connect Greenfield’s municipal buildings, businesses and homes with high-speed optical fibers — and that this money will be used to help make that happen.

“It’s an expensive process and the state has put up a lot of money and the town has put up some and we’re looking for partners,” he said. “You can’t find a better place to collaborate than Greenfield.”

Baystate Health officials said Friday the gift is an example of how they plan to boost their investment in Greenfield and Franklin County.

The donation, which will be split up into three $50,000 annual gifts, is one of many new projects to come, said Baystate Health CEO Mark Tolosky. The health system has given Greenfield gifts in the past, like supplying automated external defibrillators.

“We’re committed to Baystate Franklin Medical Center and this community,” said Tolosky. “We have a charitable mission to serve and do the right thing for our community and we will continue to do that in many ways we had in the past already and certainly some (other) ways in the future.”

Nurses and some local residents, at events organized by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, have criticized Baystate Health throughout the past year. They have argued that the health system has pushed its corporate agenda into Greenfield and is ruining the local community hospital.

But hospital President Chuck Gijanto argued Friday that Baystate Franklin would be very small or nonexistent without its collaboration in the parent system. He said that Baystate Health’s influence has allowed Greenfield to recruit more doctors and access a fully integrated system of electronic medical records.

“No hospital our size could ever afford something like that without being part of a larger organization,” said Gijanto.

“The community hospitals that are standing alone these days have a lot of challenges in front of them,” he said. “The fact that we are part of such a strong and robust system helps us look forward to the future of health care here as opposed to (looking) at it with trepidation.”

Tolosky brushed aside suggestions that medical services are shifting from Greenfield to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, saying it’s not feasible for either hospital. On a recent trip to Baystate Medical Center’s emergency department, he saw 18 patients waiting for an inpatient bed.

“The prospect that we have some grand strategy to bring all the care to Springfield is just erroneous,” he said. “We can’t do it. We don’t want to do it.”

Martin said Friday that he didn’t have details on what the money will be used for and that the Town Council will need to first accept the gift later this month.

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