Dr. Alex Sabo encouraged those affected by the hospital's closure to lean on a support 'team.'
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The stopgap measures are in place.
Local banks are working with those who lost their jobs to smooth out finances. Agencies like BerkshireRides are working to make those who need to get to Pittsfield for doctor's appointments have a way to get there. Visiting nurse and hospice services are back up and running in North County.
But none of that takes away from the feeling of trauma the community has experienced with the closure of the North Adams Regional Hospital nearly three weeks ago — trauma that has been experienced by North Adams before and is a real phenomenon.
"You could see the way economic trauma get translated into depression and suicide," Dr. Alex Sabo, chairman and program director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Berkshire Medical Center, said Friday at the monthly forum of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.
Sabo spoke to a capacity crowd in the basement of First Baptist Church about how members of the community affected by the situation can cope.
First, Sabo said, people have got to remember the basics: sleeping, eating well, exercising a little while recognizing that there is a challenge to overcome.
"Sometimes these very simple things fall of your list," he said.
Next, he urged people to find a "team" to help.
"Don't let anyone in the community go it alone," he said. Next, people should break the problem down into bitesized pieces and realize what they can and cannot control.
"It's pieces of a puzzle," he said.
And sometimes all those things don't work and some people are more adversely affected than others, becoming depressed enough to perhaps contemplate suicide.
"Don't hesitate in this time of trauma to reach out to ... professionals," he said.
That's because working through the trauma can lead to a silver lining.
"Terrible stress can actually make you stronger," said Sabo. "If it doesn't make you sick or kill you."
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