Court order halts closure of emergency services at NARH - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Court order halts closure of emergency services at NARH

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BOSTON, Mass. – A temporary injunction preventing stalling the closure of North Adams Regional Hospital's emergency services was issued Thursday.

"As someone who grew up in North Adams, I know firsthand how critical this hospital is to the surrounding community," Attorney General Martha Coakley said. "This injunction is the first step towards preventing an immediate health crisis for the area and keeping emergency services open. We are continuing to work closely with the administration and elected officials to help ensure continued access to critical health services for the entire community."

On Thursday, a complaint was filed in Berkshire Superior Court alleging that Northern Berkshire Health Care had failed to provide the 90-day notification prior to closure as required by law. The complaint points out that if the hospital closes, the nearest emergency room available for the area would be a 30-45 minute drive away, creating immediate health and safety concerns for the region.

Earlier in the day, the Massachusetts State Health Department issued a response Thursday on the closure of North Adams Regional Hospital. They said typically a hospital closure would trigger a public hearing 90 days in advance, but "in this extraordinary instance, a recent change in financial condition led to the hospital's decision to close immediately."

After a hearing, a judge ordered a temporary restraining order which requires the emergency room and other essential health services remain open through at least April 3, dependent on the AG's office filing a revised order with additional detail by Friday. The judge specifically requested that the AG's Office and Department of Public Health better define those emergency health services that should remain open during this period. 

A hearing on a permanent injunction has also been scheduled for Thursday, April 3 at 10:00 a.m. where the AG's office will seek to keep emergency room services operating for at least 90 days during any ownership transition or closure. 

As part of its complaint, the AG's office is seeking to prevent North Adams Regional Hospital from closing its emergency department until it complies with the hospital closure requirements, or until Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield is able to license and operate a satellite emergency facility at NARH.  Berkshire Medical Center has been working closely with NARH to assist with the transfer of patients in the wake of the announced closure.

AG Coakley is committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure an orderly transition that preserves critical emergency health services for the region.

Community members are still holding out hope that the hospital will stay open despite being told doors will close Friday morning. On Wednesday, more than 100 people, including healthcare workers, elected officials and residentsgathered in protest.

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