NORTH ADAMS -- Berkshire Medical Center has hired a total of 143 former North Adams Regional Hospital employees as BMC ramps up efforts to provide services for North County patients.
Michael Leary, spokesman for Berkshire Health Systems, which is the parent company of Berkshire Medical Center, said some of those services will remain where they are, while others will soon relocate.
NARH was closed on March 28 after three days' notice, leaving 530 employees unexpectedly without jobs and Northern Berkshire County without a local hospital.
BHS has indicated a willingness to re-start an emergency care center at NARH, and to help the OB/GYN and other NBH-affiliated practices remain in properties owned by NBH, which has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. But the trustee in the bankruptcy case is asking that BMC maintain the entire four-story hospital, even though it would only occupy the emergency department on the ground floor.
While those discussions are ongoing, BMC has indicated that it will seek alternate locations for such services. A Berkshire Superior Court hearing will continue on Tuesday to determine the status of an order by the Attorney General's office, which called for a transition of the NARH emergency room to a satellite emergency center operated by BMC.
Former NBH employees hired by BMC include physicians and other clinical staff for the former NBH physician practices such as VNA & Hospice of Northern Berkshire physicians, nurses and staff for the planned satellite emergency center and other support services.
Of the 143 hired, 96 are permanent positions and 47 are temporary 90-day positions, Leary said. Depending on the ongoing care needs in North County, some of the temporary positions may become permanent or extended.
BMC also has hired four former NARH/NBH employees to fill open positions at BMC.
Some physician practices formerly affiliated with NBH will either relocate or remain in their current surroundings:
* Northern Berkshire OB/GYN is practicing in its existing location at NARH for the remainder of this week, and effective Monday, April 14, will reopen on the second floor of 2 Park St. in Adams. The phone number remains the same.
* Northern Berkshire Family Medicine is continuing to practice in its current location on State Road next to Harriman-West Airport. The phone number also remains the same.
* Greylock Gastroenterology, Berkshire Hematology Oncology, Cardiology and Urology Services will remain in the Ambulatory Care Building on the grounds of NARH. The building is owned by a private entity not related to NARH and is unaffected by the closure or bankruptcy.
There are existing laboratory and testing services available in North County at locations in North Adams, Adams and Williamstown.
In North Adams, such services are available at Berkshire Hematology Oncology in the Ambulatory Care Building, 77 Hospital Ave. This office, open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, will be relocating to another suite in the same building in the near future.
In Adams, lab and testing can be found at 19 Depot St., 2nd floor of the Adams Internists building, also open 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
Williamstown Medical Associates continues to operate its blood drawing station at its Adams Road offices for patients of Williamstown Medical Associates.
Home care and hospice services continue in North County, with former employees of VNA & Hospice of Northern Berkshire hired as BMC employees, both full-time and on-call staff. The on-call staff is maintaining their previous work commitment at their request.
VNA & Hospice will soon be opening a first-floor office at 26 Union St. in North Adams. A date has not yet been set.
Ecu-Health Care will also soon relocate to the first floor of 26 Union St. in North Adams. Berkshire Health Systems is helping Ecu-Health Care pay for the move. Ecu-Health Care will be closed this Monday and Tuesday to complete the move, but will be keeping its current phone number (413) 663-8711. Ecu-Health Care is not affiliated with BHS and continues as an independent agency assisting Northern Berkshire residents with access to health coverage.
Leary noted that BMC will continue to provide a toll-free Care Line for North County residents who have questions about accessing services, transportation or general health care questions at (855) 262-5465.