North Adams Regional Hospital emergency room to remain open

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. (WWLP) – 22News has confirmed that a judge has granted the Attorney General’s Office an injunction that would keep the Emergency Room of North Adams Regional Hospital open.

It’s a temporary solution to a larger problem. The picturesque community is still facing a community health crisis.

“This hospital is vital to the community. I know people who are not going to have transportation,” said Jaque Marling, a cancer patient and resident of Florida, MA.

The judge granted the injunction Thursday in Pittsfield Superior Court pending a revised injunction Friday at Noon.

The Attorney General’s Press Secretary, Christopher Loh told 22News the revised order will be to clarify what other services should remain open to handle an emergency.

Dick Alcombright is the Mayor of North Adams. He told 22News, “We know we can’t solve this problem in 3 days. I’ve asked the Governor if there is there a way he can provide relief so we can at least get the critical services that we need so like the emergency department.”

Loh also confirmed for 22News that another hearing is scheduled in Pittsfield Superior Court for April 3rd at 10:00 a.m for a permanent injunction.

The Attorney General’s basis for the complaint was that the hospital did not adhere to a 90 days closing notice. Instead, providing only three days.

The emergency room being open means North Adams Ambulance Service will still be able to deliver patients, without a two hour turn-around between calls.

No patients will be admitted.

Community members, and hospital workers still plan to hold their vigil / occupation to protest the hospital’s closing at 10-AM Friday.

Below is a statement from the Attorney General’s Office:

A judge has issued a temporary injunction that will prevent the immediate closure of North Adams Regional Hospital’s emergency services, preventing a regional health crisis, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

“As someone who grew up in North Adams, I know firsthand how critical this hospital is to the surrounding community,” AG Coakley said. “This injunction is the first step towards preventing an immediate health crisis for the area and keeping emergency services open. We are continuing to work closely with the administration and elected officials to help ensure continued access to critical health services for the entire community.”

Upon learning about the proposed rapid closure of the hospital, AG Coakley immediately began working with other leaders to explore all options available to prevent a regional health crisis for the area. A complaint was filed this afternoon in Berkshire Superior Court alleging that Northern Berkshire Health Care (NBH) had failed to provide the 90-day notification prior to closure as required by law. The complaint points out that if the hospital closes, the nearest emergency room available for the area would be a 30-45 minute drive away, creating immediate health and safety concerns for the region.

After a hearing Thursday afternoon, Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini ordered a temporary restraining order which requires the emergency room and other essential health services remain open through at least April 3, dependent on the AG’s office filing a revised order with additional detail by Friday. The judge specifically requested that the AG’s Office and Department of Public Health better define those emergency health services that should remain open during this period.

A hearing on a permanent injunction has also been scheduled for Thursday, April 3 at 10:00 a.m. where the AG’s office will seek to keep emergency room services operating for at least 90 days during any ownership transition or closure.

As part of its complaint, the AG’s office is seeking to prevent North Adams Regional Hospital (NARH) from closing its emergency department until it complies with the hospital closure requirements, or until Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield is able to license and operate a satellite emergency facility at NARH. Berkshire Medical Center has been working closely with NARH to assist with the transfer of patients in the wake of the announced closure.

AG Coakley is committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure an orderly transition that preserves critical emergency health services for the region.

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