After a whole lot of legal maneuvering, it now looks like North Adams Regional Hospital – including its emergency room – will soon close.
In a statement, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley says that since there’s no funding available to run the hospital safely, she will not object to closing the ER over the weekend.
Coakley says her office will work with Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield to reopen the North Adams emergency room as soon as possible. Further, Coakley says her office will conduct a full investigation into the actions of the board of Northern Berkshire Healthcare, which owns the hospital.
The scene in North Adams on Friday was emotional, as community members held out hope for continued medical care.
A group of protesters including former employees and uniformed North Adams firemen gathered in the rain. Shortly after 10 a.m., several nurses exited after their final shift, to applause from the crowd.
Employees were told Tuesday that the hospital would close Friday. Nurse Kathleen Wilkinson recalls the rapid pace of events.
“I was at home. About quarter after 3, one of my co-workers called me,” Wilkinson says. “And she said ‘Did you hear?’ and I thought somebody died. And I found out the hospital died.”
Jennifer Dowling has been a nurse there for thirty years.
“This is all I’ve ever known,” Dowling says. “It’s just a sad day. A sad, sad day. A lot of blood, sweat and tears have been put into this place. This has been my family, my second family, for a long, long time.”
A group of protesters planned to maintain a vigil in the hospital’s dining room.
For the time being, the closest emergency rooms to North Adams will be in Pittsfield and Bennington, Vermont, both about a half-hour away.
New England Public Radio’s Sam Hudzik contributed reporting.