Berkshire Health Systems to Expand Access to Care in Northern Berkshire County

NORTH ADAMS — As part of its continued investment in the health of Berkshire County, Berkshire Health Systems (BHS) recently announced plans to seek federal and state approval to reopen up to 25 inpatient beds at its North Adams campus and designation as a critical-access hospital (CAH) for its facility in North Adams. This prospective designation is part of BHS’s strategic plan to expand access to care and advance health and wellness for all across the region.

“This investment in re-establishing 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,” said Bart Raser, chair of the BHS board of trustees.

Darlene Rodowicz, BHS president and CEO, added that “a CAH designation would signal an exciting new development in the deep history of our North Adams campus. To celebrate the facility’s legacy of high-quality care, we are proud to reimagine this hospital facility under a familiar name: North Adams Regional Hospital. Once approved, the updated North Adams Regional Hospital will offer state-of-the-art medical and surgical services on a scale that meets the needs of Northern Berkshire residents today and into the future.”

If granted a CAH designation, North Adams Regional Hospital will operate under its own license to offer inpatient medical-surgical services, in addition to the emergency and outpatient services it currently provides. CAH designations are granted by the federal government and limited to small, rural facilities that meet certain criteria to qualify for federal support in maintaining services that would otherwise not be financially and/or operationally viable. North Adams is newly eligible for CAH designation due to a recent change in regulatory guidelines that had previously prevented North Adams being designated a CAH in 2014.

“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,” said Jennifer Macksey, mayor of North Adams. “I look forward to continued collaboration with BHS as we seek to improve health outcomes for patients across our region.”

Under the CAH license, North Adams Regional Hospital would hold up to 25 inpatient medical/surgical beds, as well as operating rooms, imaging, lab and pharmacy services, and an emergency department. With a CAH designation in North Adams, there would be three separately licensed hospitals within the BHS system: Berkshire Medical Center and two critical-access hospitals, Fairview Hospital and North Adams Regional Hospital.

“We are thrilled about this opportunity to re-establish inpatient beds at North Adams,” said Lou Ann Quinn, director of Operations for the North Adams campus. “This is an important step to expand North County residents’ access to high-quality, convenient care.”

Pending state and federal regulatory approval and facility updates, BHS expects the CAH to begin providing services this winter. BHS intends to hold a community meeting to discuss the plan with residents, patients, and community leaders over the summer months, and will keep community members apprised as these dates are scheduled.