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Almost a decade after hospital's closure, North Adams could soon get inpatient beds

 A photo from 2014 of the exterior of North Adams Regional Hospital in North Adams, Massachusetts.
Creative Commons
A photo from 2014 of the exterior of North Adams Regional Hospital in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Berkshire Health Systems says — pending approval from regulators — it plans to reopen its North Adams hospital for inpatient care.

On just a few days' notice, the facility closed in 2014 after a former operator, Northern Berkshire Healthcare, encountered financial problems.

The closure nine years ago meant hundreds of job losses, and sent residents of northern Berkshire County requiring inpatient services to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield or Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington.

Berkshire Health Systems purchased the North Adams hospital several months after it closed. The hospital system gradually resumed some services there — outpatient care, an emergency room, lab — but not inpatient care.

The reopened North Adams hospital would have as many as 25 inpatient beds, BHS said. State and federal approvals are still needed and some building work is necessary. The hospital could reopen as soon as this winter.

“BHS continues to invest in our region, and a Critical Access Hospital in North Adams signals an investment not only in the facility, but in the health of all North County residents,” Mayor Jennifer Macksey said in a press release. “I look forward to continued collaboration with BHS as we seek to improve health outcomes for patients across our region.”

The hospital system noted a recent regulatory change should allow the North Adams facility to be designated a "critical access hospital" by the federal government, resulting in more financial support.

“This investment in reestablishing inpatient beds in North County represents a new chapter, not only for North Adams but for our system’s ongoing efforts to improve the health and overall quality of life of the many communities we serve across Berkshire County,” Bart Raser, chair of the Berkshire Health Systems board, said in the statement.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association, which has urged Berkshire Health Systems to reopen the hospital for years, applauded the announcement.

“As nurses, we are thrilled that our patients will have better access to essential inpatient care closer to their homes," the union's Berkshire Medical Center co-chairs said in a statement. "The announced beds will help restore some of what our communities lost in 2014, though nothing can replace the years of diminished access to care."

The union said it would work with the hospital system's leadership to "ensure the re-opening process is smooth and respects the needs of patients, nurses, and all caregivers."

Adam Frenier contributed.

Sam Hudzik has overseen local news coverage on New England Public Media since 2013. He manages a team of about a dozen full- and part-time reporters and hosts.