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North Adams Regional Hospital Announces it Will Close on March 28 with just Three Days Notice

Press Release, 3/26/14

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Providing Just Three Days’ Notice to Its Patients, Community and Workforce

Nurses Outraged by this Callous Decision, Vow to Fight the Decision

Statement by the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United

North Adams Regional Hospital has announced this afternoon that they are closing the hospital as of Friday, providing the patients, community and workforce served by this hospital with just three days’ notice.

NARH is a community hospital that provides desperately needed emergency and inpatient care to an isolated, rural community in the northwest corner of the state. It is outrageous to close this hospital so abruptly with no plan in place for the patients impacted by this callous decision.

We are not convinced that the board of trustees and management have fulfilled the legal requirements to allow the closure of this facility, and in any case, to do so in this manner is unacceptable.

While the board of trustees may have chosen to abandon this community, the nurses of NARH have not. We are meeting with all relevant public officials, working with others in the community and exploring every legal avenue open to us to save this hospital, or to at least ensure a safe transition for our patients.

The closing highlights a growing crisis in Massachusetts where the consolidation of hospitals into large corporate newtorks (such as Baystate Health and Partners), has left smaller community hospitals, particularly those that serve poorer communities, more vulnerable, with no source of support to ensure all communities have access to the care and services they need.

In addition to fighting to save this and other hospitals and services currently in jeopardy, the MNA/NNU is promoting a ballot initiative, the Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act which would establish a process for funding needed services and facilities for all communities in the Commonwealth. Coincidently, a nurse from NARH testified about this issue at a State House hearing held on Monday.

Here is some links to news coverage of the closing:

Boston Globe: North Adams Regional Hospital to close

The Berkshire Eagle: NORTH ADAMS REGIONAL HOSPITAL, AFFILIATES TO CLOSE FRIDAY

Here is the testimony of Diane George, a North Adams Regional Hospital ED nurse, who addressed the Joint Committee on Health Care at hearing on March 24, the day before the announcement of the closing, about how her hospital and community were victims of a system out of balance, where mega hospital corporations were making enormous profits, while smaller hospitals are on the brink, and the need for a ballot initiative, The Hospital Profit Transparency & Fairness Act, to claw back some of those profits to save hospitals and services for all communities.

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Diane George Testimony

Joint Committee on Health Care Financing

H. 3844 The Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act

My name is Diane George and I am a longtime emergency department nurse at North Adams Regional Hospital, a small community hospital providing care to an isolated rural community nestled in the Berkshires in the far northwest corner of the state. Because we serve a large population of elderly patients and those of lower economic status, we are not as profitable as many other hospitals in the Commonwealth. Yes, we are one of the “have not” hospitals described in earlier testimony. It is not our fault that we serve the population we serve, and as a nurse, my only concern is that these people need and deserve the same level of care as any other resident of our state. Yet our ability to serve our community has been diminished significantly in recent months.

While hospital networks like Baystate Health post millions of dollar in profits, and nearby Berkshire Medical Center also has a healthy bottom line, we have struggled to survive. This has caused our administration to proceed with the closing of our Greylock Pavilion, a special unit that provides psychiatric and substance abuse treatment, as well as our pediatric unit that provides basic care to ill children in our community.

In response, the community rose up to oppose these closings and the Department of Public Health ruled that these indeed were essential services. Yet, because DPH has no authority to prevent such closures, our community has lost these services. Our legislators have attempted to help with this crisis, but have said there is no source of funding to support these services. I support the Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act because it will help to create some equity in our health care system by clawing back excess profits from the very profitable “haves” in our system to create a fund that could be used to preserve services like those recently lost at my hospital that everyone agrees our community needs. I am also encouraged by the fact that this fund will be administered by the Health Policy Commission, as I believe it is important that the allocation of these resources is governed by a body of experts who can determine if hospitals receiving these funds are truly deserving of this support. This is essential as we need to ensure that those operating our hospitals are doing so in an efficient and appropriate way and that our taxpayer dollars are directed to needed patient care.

 

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