N. Adams residents gather to address city health concerns

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Updated: 7/01 11:25 pm

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – A health care forum was held in North Adams to discuss what a hospital should look like in the city.

North Adams Regional Hospital closed suddenly in March. Emergency care has since been restored, but most residents think it’s not enough. Now, they are trying to figure out what services people in the area need.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the community to come out and really give their input as to what this should look like overtime,” Mayor Richard Alcombright said.

The Department of Health asked Stroudwater Associates to file an independent report on community needs.

“We want sustainable, high quality services,” state representative Gailanne Cariddi said.

Cariddi said having reasonable expectations is important.

“Do we want to do high quality eye surgery here? No, we can’t do that here,” she said.

“We need to, really now, strongly as a community come together and decide what is it we need versus what is it we want,” Alcombright said.

On people’s list of wants included diabetic services, mental health services, physical therapy and outpatient care.

“It’s got to be quick. It’s got to be by well competent people, and the people who are receiving got to be confident that they’re getting the right care,” resident John Lipa said.

Transportation was another major concern.

“You can’t do it from long distance,” Lipa continued. “You have to do it near.”

“And in the winter, driving these roads and getting there, and even in an ambulance, that’s just not viable,” resident Laura Vankin said.

Brian Haapala with Stroudwater Associates said residents’ concerns will be taken into consideration.

“As healthcare continues to change, how so we come up with other solutions for transportation,” he said. “Not to say that that’s going to define the answer here, but it’s a common issue in rural communities.”

Stroudwater said it will likely take six weeks to complete a report. A representative will then be back in North Adams to get additional public input before turning the report over to the Department of Health.

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