NORTH ADAMS, Mass (WWLP) — North Adams residents say they want to know why the hospital in their city, and the only one close to them, should they have an emergency, was closed so abruptly on Friday. The hospital closed down on Friday and the emergency room was shut down Saturday. North Adams residents say the closing was so abrupt and they want answers.
Well the Attorney General’s office said it’s launching a full investigation into the hospital’s closure and into the board that voted to shut it down. On Friday, residents from North Adams and its surrounding communities protested outside the North Adams Regional Hospital. That protest eventually led them inside, and at the door of hospital Board’s CEO Tim Jones.
22News spoke with the people of North Adams who say the board told them on Friday although the hospital would be shutdown, that the emergency room would still remain open. That is why they say Saturday morning they were shocked to see it had closed as well. The board cited it’s closing as due to a lack of staff and medical equipment and supplies to keep it open. But some of the hospital’s employees told 22News that was simply not the case.
North Adams residents say they fear for their lives after the hospital in their city was shutdown. The closing is affecting everyone in the city including the now former employees, the patients and residents. The hospital was home to about 550 employees and they are all without jobs.
22News spoke to one employee who says they were only given three days notice to the hospital’s closure, which made the situation even worse. North Adams is small city, with a population under 14,000, so a lot of people here in this community know someone who has worked at the hospital. They some of the doctors and nurses had been there for decades. So this is really a tragedy for staff members and it’s making a lot of residents scared as to what would happen if a sudden life or death emergency were to happen. The nearest hospital is Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield and that is over twenty miles away.
22News spoke with the North Adams Ambulance Service Chief, John Meaney, who says before the hospital closed down, it would take them just minutes to transport a person to the hospital. But transporting patients to Berkshire medical Center? Meaney says in some cases that could take over an hour. Meaney says he’s working on adding more staff and putting more ambulances on the road. There is some good news about the Hospital’s possible re-opening.
North Adams Mayor Dick Alcombright told 22News he is confident the hospital’s emergency room will reopen on Monday under new ownership. Berkshire Medical Center wants to take over the day to day operations and use the North Adams emergency room as a satellite facility to its main hospital in Pittsfield. The state Department of Public Health will ultimately decide if Berkshire Medical Center gets the licensing to run the emergency room.
However, 22News spoke with the North Adams Hospital Director of Facilities and safety and security, Darryl Smith this morning. He says there is a good chance the emergency room won’t be ready to open by Monday. Smith is meeting with other hospital officials this morning to determine a more reasonable reopen date. He says he’s hoping for midweek.
Now, currently there are 550 employees who are jobless and if the hospital’s emergency room reopens, that would make room for an estimated eighty to one hundred employees.