CRI LEP with Berkshire Health Systems

Berkshire County is the westernmost county of Massachusetts, with a population of nearly 130,000. A picturesque area that is widely known for its cultural and recreational venues, Berkshire County is home to a significant number of residents who are lower income and either uninsured or underinsured. The Berkshire community reflects national health trends and faces many health challenges that affect overall health, wellness, productivity, and quality of life, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low physical activity, and type 2 diabetes. 1


Canyon Ranch Institute and Berkshire Health Systems (BHS) partnered in 2013 to begin developing a Canyon Ranch Institute Life Enhancement Program (CRI LEP) for residents of Berkshire County and the patients served by BHS. The program aims to eliminate health disparities and empower people in communities throughout Berkshire County, MA, to prevent chronic disease and embrace a life of wellness. Read the news release.

BHS is a network of affiliates, including Berkshire Medical Center and Fairview Hospital, and is deeply integrated across the entire county. BHS’s award-winning medical programs and staff are complemented by additional quality BHS offerings that meet broader community needs, such as employee wellness programs, literacy promotion, and language services.

Also located in Berkshire County is Canyon Ranch in Lenox, the sister property to the original Canyon Ranch in Tucson. BHS and Canyon Ranch in Lenox have a history of working together to improve the health of Berkshire County residents, such as through a scholarship program for adults at risk for chronic disease. With the development of the CRI Life Enhancement Program, the mission to educate, inspire, and empower BHS patients of greatest need is reaching to new levels.

How We’re Making a Difference

The BHS CRI LEP aims to prevent chronic disease by advancing health literacy, and improving nutrition, physical activity, stress management, and life balance through an integrative approach to health and wellness. BHS has now established three CRI LEP Core Teams in Berkshire County communities to conduct the BHS-CRI LEP. The Core Team to serve the Pittsfield community was established in 2013 through Berkshire Medical Center. The Core Team to serve the Great Barrington community was established in 2015 through Fairview Hospital. A third Core Team was trained in 2016 to serve the northern area of Berkshire County at the North Adams Campus of Berkshire Medical Center. Core Team members from all BHS teams completed training at the Canyon Ranch Life Enhancement Center in Tucson, AZ, followed by a week-long Bridge Practicum training on site in Berkshire County.

In Pittsfield, the first group of participants recruited by BHS completed the program in December 2013. The program targets individuals, helping them learn to make healthier choices. Those individuals often share their healthy choices and knowledge with their friends, families, and community. Since the program began, more than 100 people from the Pittsfield community have taken part in this free program.

In Great Barrington, the first group of participants completed the program in July 2015.

Graduates of the BHS-CRI LEP participate in regular in-person and online support activities hosted by BHS. In addition, BHS intends for the knowledge, skills and experience gained through the CRI LEP to influence how BHS delivers overall healthcare and programming.


Canyon Ranch Institute evaluates the CRI LEP’s effectiveness across the entire scope of our integrative model of health. CRI measures the impact of addressing health literacy in regard to participants’ changes in nutrition, physical activity, physical health, knowledge, stress, and attitudes. Results from the CRI LEP indicate participants experience a number of health changes. Among the improvements are adopting healthier behaviors, losing weight, improving their strength, feeling less depressed, knowing more about health, lowering blood pressure, increasing the ability to manage stress and pain, and making healthier food and portion choices, and engaging more with their community.

1 Berkshire County Community Health Assessment, November 2011 (Rev. 2012)