NARH union reps hail 'reprieve,' but see more to be done


NORTH ADAMS -- It's a start.

That was the feeling of union representatives at North Adams Regional Hospital on Thursday after learning that a court ruling would prevent the closing of the emergency room.

"We're very happy that we've gotten at least a reprieve," said David Schildmeier, a spokes man for the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United, which represents about 100 nurses at NARH.

But there is more to be done to ensure the health and well-being of people in the North County area.

He said the additional time before the building is completely closed allows opponents of the shutdown to garner more support and find new ways o help solve the issues preventing the hospital from remaining open.

"It gives us an opportunity to keep the place open," he said. "With the time we've been given, we need to try to get the rest of the hospital open, because that's what the community needs."

He said the occupation and vigil by opponents of the closure will go on.

"We see what happened today as an important first step, but we still want the rest of the services at the hospital to continue, so we'll continue the occupation until that happens."

Jeff Hall, a spokesman for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, which represents roughly 200 employees, said the ruling helps the cause of keeping the hospital open, but more still needs to happen.

"It's encouraging that there's evidence of some form of action," he said. "But we remained focused on the 5 p.m. vigil [at the hospital Thursday], and other community outreach. Action against the closing of NARH will continue. It is positive to see that community action has begun to have an affect and to see state officials moving to action, But caregivers are still counting on community support to save the hospital and vital services for the North County area."

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