Our History

The Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, formerly Partners for a Healthier Community, was founded in 1996 by a broad coalition of community providers in response to the defunding of public health and safety services brought about by Proposition 2 ½ . The initiative was led by Sister Mary Caritas of Mercy Medical Center. The coalition included two major health systems- Sisters of Providence Health System (now Mercy Medical Center) and Baystate HealthCity of Springfield (Mayor’s Office and the Department of Health and Human Services); business sector participants such as Massachusetts Mutual Financial Group and Chamber of Commerce; and a cross-section of community interests (neighborhood councils and civic associations, community-based nonprofits and other stakeholders). 

By design, PHIWM functions as a neutral “backbone” organization, so that it could convene competing sectors and organizations to address community health needs through authentic collaboration and with resident input. 

Learn more about the journey of the Public Health Institute of Western MA.  In the video below, Executive Director Jessica Collins and Founder Frank Robinson talk about the evolution of the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts.