To the editor of THE EAGLE:

The closing of North Adams Regional Hospital is indeed a tragedy, and all of us in North Berkshire are heartbroken. That includes all the fine people who have staffed our hospital with skill and devotion, and who now find themselves without jobs, as well as all of us residents who have depended on our hospital for outstanding care for so many years. And it also includes, without a doubt, the members of the Board of Trustees, who had to make the enormously painful decision to close our hospital.

I therefore feel compelled to take strong exception to your newspaper’s repeated vilification of the NARH Board of Trustees. These are all local people, giving countless hours -- without pay -- to serve their, and our, community. And, like the rest of us in Northern Berkshire, they and their families have relied on NARH throughout the years for quality medical care.

In agreeing to serve on the board of our not-for-profit hospital, they have given freely of their time, energy and devotion in an unflagging commitment to assure that we all could rely on our community hospital to provide "exceptional health care from the heart." For that they deserve our gratitude, not vilification, in this time of community grief.

Knowing the kind of people they are, I have absolutely no doubt that the members of the board and administrative staff have done their utmost to keep this closure from happening -- and that they have courageously persevered in the face of the extraordinary challenges that arose and worsened over the past several years. Now, having found themselves in a corner where the only option was to close the hospital, the members of the board do not deserve to be portrayed as villains.

I extend my heartfelt thanks to all the dedicated people at NARH -- employees, management, and trustees -- for providing me and my family with the highest quality health care over the years. And I fervently hope that those other people and organizations who have now pitched in to help address this situation will succeed -- and quickly -- in assuring essential medical services for the people of northern Berkshire.

And I very much hope that everyone, including notably the Eagle, will follow Mayor Alcombright’s wise advice, and stop the finger-pointing.

BARBARA BASHEVKIN

Williamstown