Firm studying North Berkshire health care needs sets community meeting


NORTH ADAMS -- The analyst hired to study Berkshire County’s health care needs in the wake of North Adams Regional Hospital’s closing has scheduled its first community meeting.

Stroudwater Associates, based in Portland, Maine, has a particular focus on Northern Berkshire County. Its mission is to identify local health care necessities in the aftermath of the North Adams hospital’s closing and to determine what sorts of health care services will meet those needs in a financial sustainable business model.

The community meeting, open to the public, is at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 1, at the American Legion on American Legion Drive in North Adams.

As part of its assessment, the firm examines a wide variety of data and conducts a number of community meetings to get a feel for public perceptions, said Brian Haapala, a Stroudwater Associates director.

Other community meetings will follow, Haapala said.

"We are looking at later dates in late July or early August, but we don’t have those nailed down yet," he said.

Gov. Deval Patrick promised an independent study of the region’s health care situation shortly after North Adams Regional Hospital closed abruptly on March 28. Berkshire Medical Center has since stepped in and re-opened an emergency department at the former hospital and has submitted a $4 million bid to buy the facility.

City, state, union and BMC officials are anxiously awaiting the report so work can begin on determining how best to redeploy the hospital facility and increase employment from the pool of more than 500 workers displaced when NARH closed.

The study, according to state officials, will be an "evidence-based process" that includes interviews, analysis of health insurance records, and the exploration of health care delivery models.

The study seeks to conclude what opportunities exist for sustainable medical services and what services will be a challenge to fund operationally. The ultimate goal is to create a health care center that will not succumb to bankruptcy and closure.

To reach Scott Stafford:,
or (413) 663-3741, ext. 227.
On Twitter: @BE_SStafford.


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