Photo Gallery: Job Fair held for former NARH employees
NORTH ADAMS -- While the fate of North Adams Regional Hospital remains unclear, its former employees took another step toward securing their future on Wednesday.
More than a dozen regional health care employers held a job fair at the Clark House building at the hospital, providing job applications and other information. Other agencies such as the Berkshire Community Action Council provided applications for heating fuel and other forms of assistance for the newly unemployed.
"We've talked to a lot of great candidates," said Vincent Batza, a recruiting manager for Core Medical Group, a health care recruiter that has between 40 and 45 job openings.
Baystate Health, St. Peter's Health Partners, Glens Falls Hospital, and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center were among those with booths at the job fair, each with multiple positions available, representatives said.
Baystate Health -- which is based in Springfield, has three hospitals and a visiting nursing program -- has well over 100 positions available, according to Francie Garanin, a senior talent acquisition consultant.
Tabatha Cross, who represented Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, said the hospital currently has between 20 and 25 jobs available, while representatives for St. Peter's Health Partners said there are hundreds of positions available at its locations throughout New York.
Many of the employers offer applications online, and some, such as Baystate Health, even offer job tracking so potential employees are notified when a new position opens up.
Angie Lingner, a registered nurse at NARH for 32 years, attended the event and said there are "a lot of jobs out there," but that the process can be headache-inducing. Since most of the hospitals and health care providers present at the job fair were an hour away or more from North Adams, Lingner said a former NARH employee would either have to make the long commute or reconsider housing options.
Although many of the nurses at NARH had years of experience, they could be "starting at ground zero" in a new job, she said. Lingner also expressed concern that if former NARH staff is hired elsewhere, it would be difficult to find the same caliber of employees if new services are opened at the former NARH site.
"This community needs a hospital," she said.
At the MountainOne Bank on Main Street, meanwhile, dozens of former NARH employees received some temporary assistance in the form of WalMart and Cumberland Farms gift cards, most ranging from $25 to $50.
"They never felt they'd be in this position," said Valerie Schwarz, executive director of the Berkshire Food Project, who launched an online campaign that raised $3,000 for gift cards.
Schwarz is hoping to continue raising money through the GoFundMe page, and plans to distribute gift cads again next week as long as the funds are available. MountainOne Bank has donated space to Schwarz and opened a room as a resource for former NARH employees, with free access to a printer and fax machine.
The GoFundMe campaign can be found at www.gofundme.com/gift-card-fundraiser.