Residents hope to keep the North Adams hospital open

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. (WWLP) – Devastating news for residents in northern Berkshire County, more than 500 people could be out of a job with the closing of North Adams Regional Hospital on Friday.

22News find out how the community is reacting to this sudden announcement

Citing major financial troubles, Northern Berkshire Healthcare says they’ll close the North Adams Regional Hospital at 10:00 a.m. Friday, along with the Visiting Nurses Association and three medical practices.

North Adams Mayor Dick Alcombright told 22News, “People have asked me, ‘Was I surprised by the closure?’ No, I was not surprised. I think if any of us were surprised it would be off because the hospital has been in financial trouble for a long time. But shocked, I think the community is shocked over this. I certainly am.”

The hospital filed for bankruptcy in 2011, but has since been in negotiations to merge with Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.

David Schildmeier, the spokesperson for Mass. Nurses Association, said, “To do it in three days is absolutely obscene. They’ve been having discussion and last week told us it was fine and then yesterday a 2 o’clock tell us that they were closing in three days. No one should allow this to happen.”

Now, deep community concerns about jobs and patient care.

Katherine Quirk of North Adams said, “For the doctors too. It’s going to put a lot of stress on them. It’s going to be a lot of overload and a lot of people are going to have to wait a lot longer now to see a doctor.”

The nearest other hospitals are Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield or a hospital in Bennington Vermont.

Debbo Poplask, who works as a secretary in the hospital’s emergency department, said, “You have somebody that’s in cardiac arrest. Can you do CPR for a half an hour all the way down to BMC? I don’t know. I hope you can.”

She says the hospital is in the process of transporting patients.

A hospital spokesman refused an on camera interview, and told 22News to leave the property.

In a statement, Northern Berkshire Healthcare Board Chair Julia Bolton told 22News, “We have investigated every possible avenue and exhausted all options as we searched for a way to continue operating the hospital and it’s affiliates.”

Many community members and the Mass. Nurses Association told 22News they still believe there’s time to come up with a plan that would, in their words, avoid a healthcare disaster.

Union nurses, hospital workers, and residents held an emergency meeting Wednesday night to try to find a way to save the hospital.

An estimated 100 people filled the North Adams American Legion Hall. They’ve started an online petition and a facebook page to try and gain support to keep North Adams Regional Hospital operating past Friday.

Susan Rose of North Adams said “I don’t think we’re going to get the hospital re-instated in three days, but there is one thing that is important to everyone, of major importance, and that’s the emergency room.”

The Union is Calling on Governor Patrick and Attorney General Martha Coakley to intervene and keep the hospital open.

Supporters are planning to hold a morning vigils Thursday and Friday in the hospital lobby.

The hospital’s scheduled to close at 10:00 Friday morning.

Click Here to see the online petition to stop the closing.
Click Here to see the facebook page created by the group.

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