Tumblr, I need your help. The city of North Adams, Mass. needs your help.
This is the North Adams Regional Hospital. Today is Wednesday. Yesterday, Tuesday, the Northern Berkshire Healthcare board of trustees, the entity that owns the hospital, announced that they will be closing on FRIDAY.
This was not due to malpractice or anything of the sort. It is due to poor management and an inability to find ways to sustain the business end of the hospital and continue to make money.
This was all unknown to the community, the staff, and the patients until yesterday. It wasn’t a secret hidden from the paper, with the staff fully aware. It was a complete surprise dumped on literally everyone who wasn’t on the board of trustees.
The closure of this hospital will cause around 500 people staffed at the hospital to loose their jobs in a matter of days. Their benefits subsequently run out on the 31st.
North Adams is a city in Northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. It is home to 13,708 people. 22% of those people are at or below the poverty line. The unemployment rate in 2010 was 10.3%. It is higher than the unemployment rate of the entire county OR the state.
North Adams is also home to the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, whose Health Services only operate on a M-F, 9-5 basis. If MCLA students become sick during any of those off-hours they were often found heading to the hospital, usually with the assistance of Public Safety or a free taxi ride from the school.
Now, these students, as well as any of the North Adams, Williamstown, Cheshire, Savoy, and Florida residents will be required to either drive the 20 minutes north to Bennington, VT’s hospital or the 30 minutes south to Pittsfield.
Let me refresh you on those numbers I mentioned earlier.
10.3% unemployment. Just about 20% at or below poverty. A college where the majority of the student body does not have a car.
North Adams is not a city that can handle not having a hospital. These are people who do not have cars, or jobs to fund potentially having a car. Luckily, the North Adams Ambulance Service will continue to operate; but really, who wants to take an ambulance ride for a sinus infection, or if they cut themselves chopping vegetables and just need a few stitches?
Oh, and did I mention that the Hospice Care will be closing as well, sending all of its patients back into their homes, a relative’s home, or out on the street without adequate care?
Please, I don’t implore the aid of Tumblr often. But this time, I could really use it. Please. We got some kid a fluffy chicken, we can help save lives. Because that’s really what this boils down to. People WILL die if this hospital closes.
All I’m asking is that if for some reason you don’t have time to actually sign the petition, please reblog this so other people can see it. And if you do have time to sign the petition to keep the hospital open, I will be eternally grateful.
This is my second home. This is a city that can flourish and be a jewel of Western Massachusetts if it is only given the chance and not hindered by things like this.
You can sign the petition HERE. It was made by a friend of mine who is very passionate about the matter, and she has written a great summary for those who might see it but not this post/the articles in the paper.
For those who want to see more of this, there is another article HERE, from the Boston Globe. And you can keep up on the story from the area newspaper’s facebook page HERE.
PLEASE. This is so important to the entire community of the Northern Berkshire County. It only takes a minute to sign the petition.
(Photos by Stephanie Zollshan / Berkshire Eagle Staff)