Coakley is committed to restoring North Adams ER services

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. (WWLP) – Attorney General Martha Coakley told North Adams residents Tuesday night, state officials are working as quickly as possible to reopen the Emergency Department at the North Adams Regional Hospital.

Diane Pytko, a hospital employee, said, “Walking out on Friday was the hardest thing we had to do.”

More than 500 North Adams Regional Hospital employees left work on Friday, March 28th, knowing that they will not return the next week.

The hospital board gave a 3-day notice before closing the hospital, leaving Northern Berkshire County residents with no convenient access to health care.

Debbie Sullivan, a hospital employee, told 22news, “The roads are not good, and especially in the wintertime. At least we are coming into summer now, so it’s a little easier, but the winter, it’s going to be tough.”

“That’s an awful thing. They need help, and they need it right away. There will be babies born at home and there will be people with heart attacks that don’t get to the hospital because time is of the essence in those kinds of things,” said Pytko.

A.G. Coakley and Governor Deval Patrick are working on expediting the license transfer process, so Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield can reopen and operate the emergency room in North Adams within the next two weeks.

Coakley said she will investigate what led to the sudden closure and review the state Medicare reimbursement rate for local hospitals. “I think that as we have looked across the state at our hospital system, and for some reason it’s be a dysfunctional market. I’ve always said we need access and we need physical access.”

Until the Emergency Room reopens, North Adams residents have to drive at least half an hour to Pittsfield. Right now, Berkshire Medical Center is the closest ER here in Northern Berkshire County.

Coakley told 22News Berkshire Medical Center has filed an application to get the emergency services license transferred to them. As soon as they receive state and federal approval, people here in North Adams will once again have convenient access to emergency services.

The license transfer usually takes some time, but Coakley said she’s trying to expedite it as quickly as possible.

“Weeks rather than months, as everyday goes on we’ll have a better sense of that,” said Coakley. “Some of that depends on the timing of the federal government, putting funding in place, I don’t know a specific time but it’ll be at least a week, maybe 10 days.”

Gov. Patrick announced that Berkshire Medical Center will also work on opening an interim, urgent care center in North Adams.

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