Yesterday’s gloomy weather matched the mood in North Adams, as North Adams Regional Hospital closed its doors. The community will pull together as best it can, but the obstacles it faces are formidable, economically and in terms of receiving quality health care.
North Adams thought it at least had an emergency room courtesy of a judge’s court order on Thursday but on Friday, management declared it did not have the money to do even that much, and the ER will be dark at least until Monday, when the saga will continue.
Clearly, Northern Berkshire Healthcare should have been forthright about the extent of its financial difficulties long before it reached the stage where an emergency room could not be kept open. U.S. First District Representative Richard Neal told The Eagle Friday that the news of the closing came as a "thunderbolt," which is basically how Governor Patrick responded to the news. These two prominent public officials are among the many who should have been kept informed by management so they could have acted before the fact rather than be forced to scramble after it.
Hospitals simply don’t close with three days notice in violation of regulations governing hospitals -- but this one did. Similar hospitals in the state are surviving and one or two may even be thriving. As North Adams moves into an uncertain future the questions about what led to this uncertainty remain unanswered.