North Adams Regional Hospital has been closed for almost a month, leaving many Berkshire County residents without nearby emergency care and hundreds without jobs. One ranking Massachusetts state senator says the future is bleak for similar small hospitals.
Berkshire Medical Center of Pittsfield plans to reopen the emergency room in North Adams in mid-May, with hopes of purchasing and operating the entire hospital. State Senator Stan Rosenberg of Amherst says in order for community hospitals to survive, this is the model they need to follow.
“When you’re a totally independent community hospital such as North Adams, your days are numbered unless you can affiliate with an institution that’s larger and has the ability to help subsidize the smaller facility within the region that’s being served,” Rosenberg says. ”
Rosenberg says he blames high health care costs for the financial troubles some hospitals have been facing. He says legislation passed two years ago by state lawmakers is designed to lower expenses, by requiring electronic record keeping and streamlined payment systems. For its part, the board of the now-defunct North Adams hospital blamed its money problems on a decline in the number of patients, and cuts in state and federal reimbursements.