Berkshire Co. hospital closes Friday

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Updated: 3/25 11:04 pm

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – Employees and patients only had three days’ notice of North Adams Regional Hospital closing on Friday.

The 13,500 residents of North Adams will not have a hospital to go to beginning on Friday. Resident Bridget Herman has been taking care of her mother who has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She said the hospital closing is unacceptable.

“Not having a hospital nearby, if something happens is scary, and I can’t imagine, if something were to happen, I have to drive her half an hour to some other hospital,” she said.

Debbie Poplaski has been working at North Adams Regional for 25 years serving as the emergency unit secretary. She said there were no warning signs of the hospital closing, and she does not believe the hospital administration can legally close down in three days.

“We’re worried about the patients,” she said. “This is going to affect a lot of people. People are going to get hurt from this.”

North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright said he was not surprised by Tuesday’s news because the hospital is $30 million in debt. However, he said he’s been in contact with state legislators and Governor Deval Patrick to come up with a way to continue to supply the city with full-service medical care.

“We can’t be without, minimally, an emergency room and some sort of a clinic environment,” he said. “We just can’t be without it.”

The mayor said emergency relief services would be coming to the hospital to speak with the 530 employees about unemployment and resume writing.

The hospital did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Alcombright said it is not admitting any new patients, and current patients are being transferred to other nearby medical facilities. The nearest is 18 miles away.

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