North Adams waiting on federal approval for emergency center

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. (WWLP) – The state has given their approval for Berkshire Medical Center to operate an emergency facility in North Adams, but the process to restore emergency medical services to northern Berkshire County still isn’t finished.

Berkshire Health Systems spokesperson Michael Leary says that they have received approval from the Department of Public Health to operate a satellite emergency facility (SEF) in the area. Yet that is only one part of the regulatory process, which also involves the federal government.

Leary says that they have filed all the necessary paperwork for this, and have been working closely with Congressman Richard Neal and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey to move things along quickly.

The northern Berkshires have been without an emergency department since the closure of North Adams Regional Hospital in late March. People in the area looking for emergency care have had to travel to either Pittsfield or Brattleboro, Vermont for treatment.

About 500 people lost their jobs when NARH closed, though Berkshire Health Systems hired 143 of them to work at the anticipated SEF. Leary said that as of Monday, these workers have begun their orientation.

Meanwhile, the long-term fate of North Adams Regional Hospital remains unclear. The Massachusetts Nurses Association is organizing a trip to Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency headquarters and the State House on Tuesday to protest what they describe as being the “illegal” closing of NARH. They are advocating to have the facility re-opened as a full-service hospital.

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