In each newsletter we highlight a Chamber member doing interesting work in our community.  This month we welcome Heywood Hospital in Gardner.

Heywood Hospital is a non-profit, community-owned, 134-bed facility in Gardner, with more than 1,000 employees.  A strategic alliance formed with Athol Hospital in 2013, to take advantage of economies of scale, has further expanded the service area.  The Heywood Medical Group network includes 200 active, courtesy, and consulting physicians in primary care and a multitude of specialties.

Dawn Casavant, Heywood’s Vice President of External Affairs, has brought a philanthropic focus to Heywood’s mission in the Greater Gardner and North Central regions of Massachusetts, believing that social services play an important role alongside healthcare:  “We are trying to address the pressing need for behavioral health and addiction services in our region.”

An unsettling trend is the increase in suicide and depression among teens.  Heywood Hospital has established a Suicide Prevention Task Force, in conjunction with the Mass Department of Public Health, to prevent suicide and to provide education and resources to help those who struggle with depression, survivors of suicide, and those who have lost loved ones.

An important resource in this struggle will be The Quabbin Retreat project, a substance abuse and mental health center in Petersham.  The first stage, the Dana Day Treatment Center, opened in February and will provide outpatient services for patients in need of addiction and behavioral health treatment.  When complete, the Quabbin Retreat will offer both inpatient and outpatient mental health services, including an adult residential substance abuse center.  In the coming years, phases two and three will encompass a residential adolescent substance abuse treatment program and an inpatient detox center, according to Casavant.  More than 30% of day rehab patients at The Quabbin Retreat currently come from Fitchburg and Leominster.

The center is named in honor of the town of Dana, one of the four lost towns of the Quabbin Reservoir, which was created in the 1930s by digging up four towns to create two immense dams.

Dawn, who also sits on the board of the Greater Gardner chamber, views Chamber of Commerce engagement as an important tool for improving community health.  “Chambers give us a pulse on what’s happening in the region, relationships with big businesses, and the support of government affairs and advocacy efforts.”  A colleague of Dawn’s, Mary Giannetti, serves on the Behavioral Health working group of the Community Health Improvement Project (CHIP), a program the Chamber has supported.

Heywood Hospital is regularly applying for grants to provide more access to services, and connect families to community-based resources.  A $10 million capital campaign is also underway.

To learn more about Heywood Hospital or get involved, please call Mary Giannetti on (978) 630-5797, or email on