Letter: Realities argue for full-service hospital in North Adams

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Health care realities facing North Adams

To the editor:

The Eagle's Sept. 17 editorial refers to the health care realities of North Adams but never defines just what these realities are and the sources that the opinion is based upon. Let me define the realities.

The reality is Northern Berkshire residents have asthma, heart disease and most cancers at a higher rate than other communities and face public health issues including obesity, alcohol and tobacco addiction. The fastest growing segment of the population is the elderly, many of whom are disabled.

The reality is barriers to access, like the lack of financial resources and transportation, makes North County a "medical vulnerable population."

The reality is the community has a need for inpatient services. Market demand shows a need for 18-21 beds for acute inpatient medical services and 11-12 beds for inpatient behavioral health and substance abuse services.

The reality is obstetric services are the most often-cited need for inpatient care in North County, and the nearly 1,100 babies born in North Adams in the most recently reviewed years support that claim.

These realities are all from the Stroudwater Associates Report commissioned by the Department of Public Health to evaluate the health care market in the Northern Berkshires.

Berkshire Medical Center is making good use of a $3 million grant from the Health Policy Commission to created a "patient-centered medical neighborhood and enhanced behavior health care." we applaud all the outpatient services designed to "keep the healthy, healthy" that BMC has introduced to BMC-North. The focus on outpatient services makes a lot of sense financially. There is more profit to be made in outpatient services than in inpatient services. However, there is an unusually large number of really sick people in our population of 37,000. They need a full-service hospital.

The Eagle says "There is no reason to believe that North Adams will be getting another full-service hospital." I have every reason to believe we will have a full-service hospital. When David Phelps, chairman of the Berkshire Health Systems board, was confronted with a profit vs. service decision in the past, he has been quoted to me as saying, "It may not be the most profitable thing to do but it is the right thing to do."

George Pouridas North Adams The writer is a member of the North County Cares Coalition.


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