To the editor of THE EAGLE:
My family was directly affected by the abrupt closing of North Adams Regional Hospital. We extend our appreciation for NARH and everyone that my husband worked with over the past 21 years.
Our children were born at NARH. We always received quality care there. It saddens us that the hospital is no longer functioning. The services it provided were vitally important to the Northern Berkshire community.
I am struck by a scene from the movie "It’s A Wonderful Life" where George Bailey, is speaking with the board of his father’s business after the death of his father. George pleads for them to see the importance of the Building and Loan in providing affordable housing for the working people of Bedford Falls and not allow the business to be taken over by Mr. Potter, whose only interest is profit. If one substitutes NARH for the Building and Loan, the importance of small community hospitals becomes apparent.
"Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about . . . they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? [Or in a full service hospital in their own community?]. Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you’ll ever be!"
This sentiment reflects what quality health care should offer. We are at our best when we come together to fight for what is right, when we set aside our differences to find our common ground. Taking care of one another is ultimately what matters -- otherwise our humanity is lost.
The people of North Adams deserve a full service, sustainable hospital within their community. My hope is that a hospital can be reopened in North Adams so that those working and paying and living there can feel secure that when they need medical attention, and ultimately when dying happens, that they might do so in the arms of local, caring providers in the hospital on the hill above the city.