To the editor of THE EAGLE:

We are staff members of Northern Berkshire OB/GYN, part of Northern Berkshire Healthcare, and have worked in the health care community in North Adams from eight to 33 years. As employees who work with many patients, we’re aware that rumors occasionally circulate about the state of Northern Berkshire Healthcare. That’s not unusual in this community, and while it’s hard to address individual rumors one by one, we thought we would offer some facts about things that are happening.

n There have certainly been changes at North Adams Regional Hospital, but we still have the same commitment to our patients and we love serving our community. Employees in every department work hard daily to provide the best care.

n NARH has achieved top scores in inpatient care quality measures that are monitored by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). With timely and effective care we have met or surpassed national and Massachusetts averages in 22 of the 26 quality measures, and have 100 percent compliance with heart failure and stroke care measures.

n We continue to have success in recruiting physicians. The latest to join NBH are general surgeon Jane Tsao, M.D. (Northern Berkshire General Surgery) and Heikki Nikkanen, M.D., who is now medical director of the NARH Emergency Department.

n Even as the health care environment changes, we are investing where it makes sense to do so. For instance, NARH now is home to the area’s only large-bore MRI unit, which can accommodate larger patients who otherwise had to travel out of the area for an MRI.

n Our Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of Northern Berkshire is in the top 25 percent of home health care agencies for "overall rating of care," according to patient satisfaction surveys. The VNA & Hospice recently earned an "Award of Distinction" from Fazzi Associates, a national firm that tracks patient satisfaction for 350 agencies. The VNA & Hospice also placed in the top 25 percent for "likelihood to be recommended to others."

n We continue to look outside of our campus for opportunities to improve health in the community. Our dietitians have started a diabetes support group that meets monthly, and REACH for Community Health works tirelessly to help people make healthier choices.

These are just a few examples among many. People often ask what they can do to support us. The simple answer is, use our services. Ask your doctor to refer you to NARH for anything from lab tests to mammography to home health care or rehab services.

Every employee at NARH, the VNA, and our physician practices is committed to providing the best care we can to our community. We want to see NBH succeed, and we believe our community does, too.

SHARI CRISTOFOLINI

PAULA ZOITO

PAULA PARADISE

North Adams

The letter was also signed by OB/GYN staffers Melissa Wood, Karen Shoestock, Rachelle Bleau, Beverly Burdick and Kasey Snook.