Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley says it will be at least another week before the emergency room at North Adams Regional Hospital reopens. Coakley, who grew up in North Adams, made the comments Tuesday afternoon outside the mayor’s office.
The attorney general announced that state officials are working with local officials to reopen the emergency department as soon as possible, saying seven to 10 days was the best possible time period for the ER to reopen, under the management of Berkshire Medical Center of Pittsfield.
The reasons for the delay include the licensing process at both the federal and state levels. Coakley says the state process is already moving, but the federal process may take a little longer. The other aspect of this is finding the necessary funding. Pressed for a specific time-frame, Coakley said she hopes services can open in weeks rather than months.
“As every day goes by we’ll have a better sense of that,” says Coakley. “Some of it depends on the timing with the federal government, putting the funding in place, and I don’t know a specific time, but it would be at least a week, maybe ten days, but don’t hold us to that right now.”
That timing doesn’t sound realistic to Diane George. She was an emergency room nurse at the hospital until it closed.
“I’m concerned that it will take more time to get things in place and have it done correctly. They don’t want this to happen again, they want it done correctly, and doing things right takes time,” says George.
Coakley’s office is also looking into the actions of the board of Northern Berkshire Healthcare before it abruptly closed the hospital last Friday on three days notice.
For now, the closest emergency rooms to North Adams are in Pittsfield and Bennington, Vermont – both about a half-hour away.
New England Public Radio’s Jeremy Goodwin contributed.