NORTH ADAMS -- With 24 hours before the scheduled closing of North Adams Regional Hospital, the mayor sought to reassure protesters gathered in the cafeteria that efforts were ongoing to restore medical services in the community.
Mayor Richard Alcombright said that Sen. Benjamin B. Downing and Rep. Gailanne Cariddi were working in Boston on a resolution the problem -- although he didn't know in what form that assistance may be.
"Government can't turn the whole thing around in a couple of days," Alcombright said. "But we can't be without anything."
By 9 a.m. Thursday, union and community members had begun to gather in the hospital cafeteria and across the street from the campus in an attempt to keep NARH open.
In conjunction with the increased protester presence, at least four North Adams Police officers stood in the lobby, attempting to keep it clear for incoming patients.
As the crowd grew, Alcombright asked that the gathering remain peacefully and orderly.
Hospital administration has, thus far, allowed the protest to continue in the cafeteria, but banned TV cameras from the grounds, according to North Adams Police Lt. David Sacco.
"At the end of the day, it's private property," Alcombright said.
As of 11 a.m. on Thursday, no arrests had been made, according to Sacco.
"We feel as bad for these people as anyone," Sacco said, but added that it was ultimately the hospital administration's decision whether to allow protests on the campus.
"We all have to have heightened patience," Sacco said.