Employees of closed hospital worry and wait

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. (WWLP) – Many of the former employees of the closed North Adams Regional Hospital are starting to look for new jobs.

About 500 people worked for the hospital, which shut down last week after only a few days’ notice. Registered Nurse Deborah Cirullo is among those who are now searching for a new place to work.

“I thought I would probably retire from this hospital, not be looking later in my career for another job,” Cirullo said. “But it’s not one person vying for a job, it’s hundreds.”

North Adams Regional Hospital rehired 75 employees on Wednesday to work in the emergency room when it reopens, but for many who didn’t work in the ER, finding a new job calls for tough decisions.

“Do you jump the gun and apply and take a job that you’re not sure you really want, or is less pay, which they will be. Or do you hang out and see what’s happening with the hospital?” former NARH employee Kim Allard said.

Another big concern is the employee health insurance, which expired Tuesday. 22News uncovered that the North Adams hospital was self-insured, so COBRA isn’t even an option. Many have tried finding new plans, but say the process can be confusing.

“With Vermont, I know there are issues across state lines. And I don’t know specifically what insurances cover or cross the lines,” 30-year employee Karin Robert said.

22News spoke Wednesday with Kevin Robinson, communications director at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington. He says that their hospital does accept Mass Health.

The problem is that even with, and especially without a job, health care is expensive.

Employees are now left with a big out-of-pocket cost for health insurance coverage, and it has a cost that many of them just can’t afford.

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