With Friday’s planned shuttering of North Adams Regional Hospital looming, a few hundred of its employees and other supporters gathered Wednesday at an American Legion hall in the small Massachusetts city, searching for a way to keep the hospital open.
An overflow crowd shared stories of receiving treatment at the hospital, praised its employees, and strategized to avert the planned closing, which was abruptly announced this week.
Afterwards, North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright said he’d like to see the state step in with an aid package that can keep at least part of the facility in business.
“As of Friday we have no care services here,” Alconbright said. “None. It’s gone, everything’s gone. And, can we do something, minimally interim, to keep our emergency room open?”
At the meeting – which was organized by the nurses’ union – North Adams resident Becky McConnell said she was glad there was a hospital nearby when she needed it.
“Seventeen months ago I gave birth to my first child and needed an emergency C-section,” she said. “And without the amazing doctors and nurses who took care of me, things could have gone differently.”
With this one closed, the closest hospitals would be found in Pittsfield and Bennington, Vermont, each about a half hour’s drive from North Adams.
Pastor Ann Clark-Killam of the United Church of Christ in North Adams said the disappearance of the hospital and its more than five hundred jobs would reopen wounds left by the closing of the Sprague Electric company in 1985.
“There is this feeling in the community that those big guys have done it to us again. And that feeling of being victimized is bringing up all these feelings of having happened before,” Clark-Killans said.