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MNA/NNU North Adams Nurses Statement Regarding Recent Efforts to Address Closing of North Adams Regional Hospital and Preserve Access to Health Care Services for Northern Berkshire County

Promise of Restoration of Emergency Services Provides Temporary Fix

BOSTON, April 2, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the 35,000 residents of Northern Berkshire County enter their fifth day with no access to health care services following the illegal closing of North Adams Regional Hospital last week, the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United was encouraged by the presence of the Governor, Attorney General and other high ranking state officials in North Adams yesterday to spearhead an effort to restore emergency services to this embattled and isolated community.

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While we appreciate the actions taken yesterday to restore some form of an emergency service as a stopgap measure to address the public health crisis in North Adams, we believe the real solution lies in the restoration of North Adams Regional Hospital as a full service hospital. Hundreds of residents of the community attended a meeting last night in North Adams to voice their support for the restoration of the full service hospital. This is what they have had for more than a century, and this is the level of service they expect and deserve going forward.

Earlier this week, the Governor issued a statement that during the weekend prior to the surprising and illegal closing of the hospital by NARH Board and CEO, he and other state officials had worked out a plan with Berkshire Health Systems to preserve NARH.  Our organization was also informed prior to the surprise closing that a merger plan was in place to maintain NARH as a full service hospital. There was no mention at that time of sustaining NARH as only a satellite emergency service. So what has changed between the discussions that occurred on the weekend prior to the closing and today? The only change we can see is that the previous owner broke the law and this community now has no access to the care they need. 

We encourage the parties working on this issue to re-establish the original plan and the funding needed to maintain a full service hospital that meets the needs of the residents of Northern Berkshire County. Right now, Berkshire Health Systems operates Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington, a full service hospital for Southern Berkshire County that serves a smaller population than what NARH served in Northern Berkshire County. 

We believe the residents of Northern Berkshire County should expect the same level of care as the rest of the County and that all policymakers and all stakeholders who are accountable for the safety of this community work to that end.

As part of our effort to deliver this message, a delegation of MNA members and staff will be outside the Westin Copley Place Boston Hotel this evening to leaflet those attending a gala being held to honor Governor Patrick for his leadership on health care issues. In part the leaflet will read: "as the Governor is recognized tonight for his leadership on health care, that leadership must include an effort to protect the residents of Northern Berkshire County, with the immediate restoration of NARH as a full service community hospital. For a copy of the leaflet, email David Schildmeier at [email protected]."

Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United is the largest professional health care organization and the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public. The MNA is a founding member of National Nurses United, the largest national nurses union in the United States with more than 170,000 members from coast to coast.

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SOURCE Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United

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