Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and other officials face legal, financial and regulatory hurdles as they try to reopen the shuttered North Adams Regional Hospital. Over several decades, dozens of small community hospitals have closed in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Alan Sager has documented hospital closing trends nationally for a long time as a Boston University public health researcher. He told us one of the most powerful predictors of a closure is a city or town’s income; another is the number of patients on medicaid seeking hospital care.
Last week, Sager and his colleagues faxed Gov. Deval Patrick a letter calling on him to declare a public health emergency in order to keep the North Adams hospital open. They haven’t heard back from him yet.