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Berkshire Health Systems Investing $6 Million In Northern Berkshire

Lucas Willard

Berkshire Health Systems will invest $6 million to expand services and improve the former North Adams Regional Hospital. The hospital abruptly closed in March. Parent company Northern Berkshire Healthcare filed bankruptcy days later.Berkshire Health Systems will restore outpatient endoscopy and orthopedic day surgery at what is now its satellite emergency facility. Building repairs and renovations will be completed along with converting electronic patient health records to BHS’ system, according to spokesman Michael Leary.

“The projects that we announced today [Tuesday] are in line with what we have been hearing from physicians and providers in Northern Berkshire,” Leary said. “These are services that we felt were priority need.”

Leary says these are the last major system enhancements the company will make for the next couple of months as BHS reviews a state-commissioned report on the region’s healthcare needs. Surrounding communities have called for a full-service inpatient hospital. Among those calling for the restoration of a full-service hospital is the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents about 100 of the 530 former Northern Berkshire Healthcare employees.

“While every investment and expansion of services in North Adams is welcome, this announcement falls far short of addressing the needs which were detailed in the Stroudwater Report and which are well known and documented throughout North County,” the union stated in a press release following BMC’s announcement Tuesday morning. “Most significantly, this announcement ignores the resolution passed just last week by the North Adams City Council calling on Berkshire Health System to restore in-patient capacity in North Adams. Six other area town select boards have passed similar resolutions and the Williamstown select board is considering the same resolution next week. “

Community and union members have held weekly meetings since NARH closed at the North Adams American Legion. Today’s begins at 5 p.m.

Leary says BHS will continue considering whether to apply for federal critical access hospital status for several weeks. Overall, BHS has hired 214 former NBH employees at the satellite emergency center, physician practices and Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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