NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – Over 100 former North Adams Regional Hospital employees have been hired for new jobs after they were laid off in March 2013.
Berkshire Health Systems announced Wednesday a total of 143 former workers have been hired by Berkshire Medical Center, but there are still many looking for jobs.
It can be more than 30 minute drive for some residents in the Northern Berkshires to get the medical services they may need. Some of those services are beginning to reappear in the area, but residents still need more.
“It is critical that we get some services here,” North Adams Mayor Dick Alcombright said. “We are a community right now that is at risk – this Northern Berkshire community.”
Alcombright has been the mayor of North Adams for five years. He is relieved to know some medical services are coming back.
“We thought two weeks ago, or three weeks ago, quite obviously wasn’t going to be able to happen,” he said. “I think we’re at a good point. We’re certainly not where we need to be.”
Some physicians, lab technicians, and vital VNA and hospice care workers will soon be offering services.
“These are caregivers that deal with some of our elderly and some of our obviously most ill people,” Alcombright said.
Emergency room care has not come back to the area, yet, but Alcombright said it is greatly needed.
“My mother had a health issue three weeks ago,” he said. “Having her five minutes from the ER as opposed to 45 minutes to the ER, it didn’t make a difference, but it certainly could have made a difference.”
Alcombright said the positions that have been hired back lay the foundation for Berkshire Medical Center to open an emergency room in North Adams.
“My understanding is it’s pretty much ready to go,” he said.
The mayor said the city is just waiting for a legal process to take place to authorize the ER.
“It’s about what we deserve,” he said. “We don’t deserve anything less than anyone else in the state with respect to healthcare and availability of that healdcare.”
Groups like the Massachusetts Nurses Association said that until the 38,000 residents in Northern Berkshire County get a full service hospital, the people will be underserved.
The Association released the following statement about the recent hirings:
“We are pleased to see that employees are being hired back into health care services needed by this community. However, our main concern is for the rapid restoration of all the services that were illegally closed by Northern Berkshire Health two weeks ago. To that end, we are working with members of the community, former workers and state, local and federal policymakers to ensure that the residents of Northern Berkshire County have access to a full service hospital as soon as possible. “
The mayor said the new jobs are a good start.
“It’s critical that we have that emergency care, and then build off of that,” he said.
There is not a date set for when emergency care services will return to North Adams.
For Northern Berkshire County residents who have questions about accessing services, transportation or general healthcare questions, they can call the Berkshire Medical Center toll free Care Line at 855-262-5465.