North Adams Regional Hospital closes emergency room

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. (WWLP) – The North Adams Regional Hospital closed the doors to its emergency room on Saturday. 22News was in North Adams to address resident’s concerns.

Although North Adams Regional Hospital closed its doors Wednesday, Saturday was the first day the emergency room shut down.

Residents who protested the closing say they had no idea the emergency room would close as well.

Mike Wilber of North Adams told 22News, “I thought yesterday we had an agreement with the board that the emergency room was going to stay open, and then at the end after people left, we found out they turned around and said it’s going to be closed.”

Union Spokesman Jeff Hall told 22News the hospital administration claimed they didn’t have enough staff or equipment to keep the ER open. Some people say they’re not buying it.

“Why would they lie and put people’s lives in danger? They have all the equipment they need,” said Peggy Wilber.

22News is working for you to learn how the sudden emergency room closure would impact residents.

“It feels like a bad dream, you don’t really think something of this magnitude could happen. The turnaround times will be longer, meaning we need to put more ambulances on the road, and that’s what we’ve done,” said John Meaney, Chief of the North Adams Ambulance Service.

North Adams Ambulance Service says before the hospital closed, it would take them just minutes to transport a person to the hospital.  Transporting patients to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield? They told 22News in some cases that could take over an hour.

“If a major emergency comes up, unfortunately the person might not make it,” said Richard DeSanty of North Adams.

Hundreds of former employees are now on the unemployment line.

“When I found out about this I cried because I’ve got friends that work up there.  I’ve got a relative that worked up there. I mean some of those nurses have been up there, thirty, forty years. It’s a tragedy,” said Carol Lebesque of North Adams.

About 550 employees worked at the hospital. Employees and patients were only given three days notice to the closing.

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