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Sudden Hospital Closure Stuns MA Community; More Coming

Cora Nucci, for HealthLeaders Media, April 2, 2014

I'm reminded of these lines from Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises: "'How did you go bankrupt?' Bill asked. 'Two ways,' Mike said. 'Gradually and then suddenly.'"

People without access to healthcare suffer the consequences immediately. Communities sink into their suffering gradually. In the case of North Adams, going from bustling mill town to once-proud mill town took about 130 years.

The root of the hospital's trouble is familiar—dwindling Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. Ironically, while the price of providing healthcare to low-income populations is steep, withdrawing care is even more costly.

The stunner in this community is not only that the hospital closed its doors, but that it slammed them shut so abruptly. The people who live in the northern Berkshires need access to medical care.

If a CAH designation would keep NARH operating, then it's time to amend CAH requirements. They were written long before thinning Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and other economic slings started shuttering community hospitals and hurting people who deserve better from their leaders.


Cora Nucci is the Digital Associate Editorial Director for HealthLeaders Media.
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5 comments on "Sudden Hospital Closure Stuns MA Community; More Coming"


Roger Forsberg (4/6/2014 at 7:40 PM)
[...I'm reminded of these lines from Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises: "'How did you go bankrupt?' Bill asked. 'Two ways,' Mike said. 'Gradually and then suddenly.'"....] This quotation provides an astute & knowledgable addition to this unhappy article in the sense that in many ways financial health is similar to human health: in both instances the 'entity', whether financial or human, cannot indefinitely continue to become sicker & sicker. Death (or bankruptcy) will eventually result.

jeff blank (4/5/2014 at 2:35 PM)
Although Medicare and Medicaid payments are less than in the private sector they are far more than reiumbursements in most of Europe. Perhaps one of those countries could come over and show us how it is done for less. The reality is that we pay far too much for healthcare in this country and places like Boston are sucking the dollars out of smaller communities and this is the consequence.. It might be a great case study into developing new in home models of care (although reopen the ER as well).. A 36 bed hospital really can't meet the quality standards it needs to.

bob sigmond (4/3/2014 at 11:22 AM)
I suggest that Partners in Boston offer to get involved to help solve the hospital shutdown crisis as it affects the health of the affected communities. Statewide leadership from the not-for-profit sector is required in this situation.