To the editor of THE EAGLE:
I have been hearing some people saying the North Adams Regional Hospital closing doesn’t affect them. Please understand: even if no one you know worked there, the closing most definitely affects you -- and every one of us.
These 530 people were some of the better-paid workers in our region. Their unemployment negatively affects individual and family stability, local business spending, charitable organization donations, housing values, neighborhood stability, local/state/federal tax revenue. There can be an increase in mental health issues, substance abuse, domestic violence, "latch key children," crime, and demand on public "welfare" programs -- need I go on?
When state Sen. Ben Downing was asked what we could do, he replied it was crucial for us to keep the pressure on the state government so it doesn’t forget about our need here, especially beyond this first week or two of shock, grief and anger. So keep calling Governor Patrick (617 725-4005) and all our elected officials (http://openstates.org/ ma/). Join the FaceBook page Save Northern Berkshire Healthcare Hospital: www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Northern-Berkshire-Healthcare-Hospital/2 05662529643802 to keep updated. Sign the petition at www.stoptheclosure.org.
Join the meetings being held to strategize local action Tuesdays at 5 p.m. at the North Adams American Legion. Contact human service organizations and charities to see what help they might need (the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition can connect you: 413-663-7588, or try www.berkshirenonprofits.com/list_all.php). Reach out to those who have lost their jobs to let them know they are not alone and as a community we are working to resolve this crisis.
And if you pray, please pray especially hard for our community to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of this tragedy.