Letter: BMC: A North County Perspective
To the Editor:
With all of the recent news on Berkshire Medical Center, the registered nurses' contract disputes and a looming second strike by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, we shouldn't be surprised that financial rating agencies have expressed concern for the future of our community hospital.
The costs of the union's demands and funding replacement nurses during the strike, combined with significant reimbursement changes, all have a negative impact on BMC. The community and the nurses' union must understand that we depend on Berkshire Health Systems to be healthy.
I am a North Berkshire resident and business owner, and I have seen up close what Berkshire Health Systems means to our community. When I heard that North Adams Regional Hospital was closing in 2014, I immediately decided it was
time to see how my business could help. We contacted organizations that were based in the former hospital, as well as
BMC, to inquire about providing them commercial space. I met with senior level BMC staff who were working overtime
to maintain services in the immediate aftermath of this health-care crisis for our community. These individuals were
physically and mentally drained, but nonetheless worked tirelessly to restore services in a rapid manner. We provided
space for a few services and it was amazing how fast BMC mobilized its employees, as well as, subcontractors who
worked around the clock to ready the spaces for occupancy.
BMC purchased the former hospital for what I thought at the time was the deal of the century. I've since learned that what looked like such a great deal did not come without a subsequent huge investment for the new owner. I wanted to
be involved with the reopening, so I contacted BMC again. As a result, our construction division, a North Adams-based
firm, was brought in to do renovation work for them. Since that time I have witnessed a very significant investment by
BMC, which has turned the facility into a modern-day health center and has provided employment for many in North
Berkshire through the services provided and as part of my contracting work.
Recent projects have resulted in Community Health Programs moving to the North Adams campus of BMC, with major
renovations and infrastructure investments by BMC to make that happen. A new modern laboratory was constructed,
also requiring major infrastructure upgrades. The busy medical imaging department underwent a complete renovation,
as well. A Renal Dialysis Center was opened by BMC to meet the increasing needs of the community. A 10,000 square-foot wing was created providing easy and efficient access to primary-care providers and specialty practices. And, a first-class orthopedics center was constructed providing residents of our area some of the best care available, close to home.
I also witnessed the human side that these investments have brought to the facility and community at large. When my
firm first started working on the campus, there were empty parking areas and little foot traffic in the corridors. It was
sad to see such little life, but I knew that was going to change. I now see parking lots again full, an increase in medical
professionals in the corridors, friends and neighbors going about their business as many services are now restored, and
many local contractors being employed to rebuild this facility.
If the nurses' union continues its tension with our community hospital, BMC will only be weakened. And if that happens,
who will be there next time to respond to a community in crisis?
Moresi & Associates
North Adams, Mass.
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