Nurses concerned about closed hospital as heroin abuse grows in Berkshires

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Updated: 4/29 9:26 pm

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. - Residents of North Adams and experts in the community gathered in City Hall on Tuesday to voice their concerns about the growing heroin epidemic in Berkshire County. 

Susan Revotskie is a former Registered Nurse at North Adams Regional Hospital and said the Department of Public Health closed down the psychiatric and substance abuse services in January because they found the services not essential. 

Two months later, the whole hospital shut down and now the laid off nurses are fighting back for these services as a part of their campaign to have a fully reinstated hospital in their community. 

“We did treat people who were dually diagnosed with a mental health diagnosis and an addiction,” said Revotskie.

Revotskie said addiction goes hand in hand with mental health issues. As there is a growing heroin abuse problem within the Northern Berkshire Community, she said a closed hospital is a problem.

“We have an outpatient care clinic here but they can't do detox or involuntary treatment. We were a locked unit so people came there knowing they could sign themselves in but recognize they would have to stay a certain number of days,” she explained. 

The Massachusetts Governor is calling the heroin epidemic a public healthcare crisis and is looking to address the problem. On Tuesday, a state senate committee, which is dealing with drug abuse and treatment options, listened to the community to hear the issues. Revotskie had a chance to speak, stressing the importance to provide enhanced treatment services for the North Adams community.

“We are so remote here. It's a region without public transportation. I think because people know the doctors and nurses of our hospital they tend to come there even walk up the hill to the hospital when they were desperate. It's another more difficult proposition going to someplace 20 miles away where you don't know anyone and your family can't come to visit,” said Revotskie.

The nurses say their number one priority is to reopen the emergency room, but they hope the state can consider these other services if and when the hospital is reinstated. 

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