Hospital Project On Track

By Susan BushPrint Story | Email Story
Second-floor view of under-construction NARH elevator tower
North Adams – A North Adams Regional Hospital multi-phase makeover is progressing on schedule and a modernized critical care unit and new lobby area could be open by year’s end. “We expect the critical care unit to be open by the end of the year,” said NARH Community Relations Director Paul Hopkins during a May 4 interview and site tour. The entire project may be completed during August 2006. Critical Changes “The critical care unit is independent of other project components. The unit will stay in approximately the same area but will be three times the size it is today,” Hopkins said. The completed unit will cover the full length of the hospital’s northern wing and plans include glass-fronted private patient rooms all within sight of a nurse’s station, a family waiting space and a private consultation room. Patients are receiving care in rooms near the construction site and their comfort is a top priority, Hopkins said. Officials and employees of the project’s architectural firm DiGiorgio Associates Inc. and general contractor Monitor Builders Inc. are well-versed with hospital projects, he said. “They understand that a hospital operates 24 hours day,” he said, and noted that work was suspended on at least two occasions to accommodate surgeries. Weekly meetings with housekeeping department staff, infection control personnel, and information technology employees maintain communication about each construction step and employee strategies. “These meetings are important,” Hopkins said. “For example, we keep housekeeping informed about the next steps so that they can keep the construction where it should be.” An interior ceiling-to-floor wall was erected to protect patients and hospital staff from much of the construction dust and noise, and specially-designed adhesive mats are scattered along the construction area. Dust from the workers’ boots adheres to the mats; as one travels from just beyond the work zone to a door leading away from the site, the blue-hued mats show a consistent decrease in tracked dust particles. Ventilation tubing is in place as well. If lobby construction continues unimpeded, the area could open in September, Hopkins said. Structural steel is in place and concrete slab work is expected to begin next week. Overhead arched enclosures are being erected and construction of an elevator tower is underway. The elevator will serve all hospital levels except the basement. The lobby is expected to host a new gift shop as well. Privacy and Comfort for Patients Surgical unit construction plans include a 10,200-square-foot addition that will host a full range of services at one location. Once completed, the unit will house four state-of-the-art operating rooms, private recovery rooms, an update family waiting area, and chapel space. “Surgical services is more than doubling its space,” Hopkins said. “Everything is centralized. Everything will happen here, no more being wheeled through hallways. This will be much more private and comfortable.” Maternity unit construction is expected to begin once the surgical unit is completed, he said. The unit size will increase by about 3,500-square-feet and new features include five private rooms and two two-bed semi-private rooms. Whirlpool tubs and private bathrooms will deliver added comfort to maternity unit guests, Hopkins said. “This area will feel more like a hotel than a hospital." An Emergency Department overhaul is expected to result in 17 private examination rooms, inclusion of an x-ray suite equipped with digital x-ray technology, and “telemedicine” stroke services between hospital doctors and Massachusetts General Hospital neurologists. Bigger and Better Overall, the project will add about 19,000-square-feet to the hospital front and include about 30,000-square-feet of interior renovations. “With the renovations, the whole hospital is about 170,000-square-feet and about 50,000 square feet of that will be new,” Hopkins said. Some improvements are already in use. A new magnetic resonance imaging machine is serving patients and doctors and new floors and wall-coverings were recently installed at the hospital dining room. The about $23 million project is being funded in part by a $12 million CARE Campaign revenue effort. A private solicitation raised about $10 million toward the construction; a public appeal is now underway to raise $2 million that will establish a NARH endowment fund, Hopkins said. About $13 million of the construction costs are being funded via bonds issued by the hospital last fall. Fiscal Foresight and Tough Choices Hopkins said he is optimistic that news of recent administrative-level hospital job cuts will not adversely affect the public fundraising effort. The job cuts were necessary because of an ever-evolving health care services delivery system. Hospitals are providing less in-patient care and many more out-patient services, including day surgeries, MRI exams, and endoscopy procedures, and resources must be shifted accordingly, he said. Hospitals across the country are facing very tight financial constraints and are struggling to remain viable while implementing necessary changes. The NARH construction project was designed to modernize and improve the hospital and the care delivered; ironically, job cuts reflect the need for fiscal foresight as the facility moves into the future of healthcare. “We must show fiscal responsibility at administrative levels and beyond,” Hopkins said. “Where we have the opportunity to eliminate jobs, we have to do it. We have to be as careful as we can. Our hope is that the community will see that our staffing changes are meant to be fiscally responsible.” Susan Bush may be reached at 802-823-9367 or by e-mail at
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Cultural Pittsfield This Week: July 12-18

Next Thursday, July 18 is 3rd Thursday: Food & Drink!
July's 3rd Thursday celebrates the city's cuisine, with more than a dozen food vendors popping up at the celebration, along with the two dozen brick-and-mortar restaurants that dot North Street. There will be almost 100 vendors in all! 
3rd Thursday's presenting sponsor, Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, will be offering FREE snow cones at Palace Park. The Boy Scouts of America will be bringing its rock climbing wall, and Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness will offer FREE Zumba in Park Square. 
Entertainment will be provided by Berkshire Bateria, Jacob's Pillow and Music in Common, plus enjoy a sneak peak at Barrington Stage and Ragtag Theatre's  Hansel and Gretel and Berkshire Theatre Group's Shrek The Musical. 5-8 p.m.
The Let's Go Pink Art Exhibition is a cancer awareness exhibit that will be on view at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield throughout October, 2019. The opening reception will be Friday, Oct. 4 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. as part of that month's First Friday Artswalk. A portion of all sales will benefit two local organizations: 20% of sales to BTG PLAYS!, 15% of sales to BMC Integrative Health Program's intuitive painting class for cancer patients, and the other 65% to the artist. Submissions will be accepted until Friday, Sept. 6. All artists will be notified of acceptance on or before Sept. 9. For more information, please email the Let's Go Pink 2019 team at
100 Years of Nat King ColeCelebrate the centennial birthday of the unforgettable Nat King Cole with timeless songs and intimate stories told and sung by two-time Grammy nominee Clint Holmes, accompanied by award-winning pianist and vibraphonist Christian Tamburr. Mr. Finn's Cabaret at Barrington Stage Company. 
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Explore the science of YOU during this annual celebration of science, invention and sensory fun! Explore the brain, transform into a germ, follow the life of a sneeze and more. Don't miss the grand finale at 7:15 p.m. Berkshire Museum. FREE, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
FRI WeeMuse: Adventures at Berkshire Museum FRI Yoga for Kids at Berkshire Athenaeum FRI-THU Parenting Classes & Play Groups at Berkshire Children & Families | SAT Pop-up Play Day at Berkshire Museum | SAT Chow Time at Berkshire Museum SAT Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum SAT Sensory-friendly Screening: Incredibles 2 at Berkshire Museum SAT da Vinci After Hours at Berkshire Museum SUN Discovery Tank Program at Berkshire Museum | MON Exploring Our World at Berkshire Museum MON Kindergarten Countdown at Berkshire Athenaeum MON Star Lab at Berkshire Athenaeum MON Stardust Cafe at Berkshire Athenaeum MON+ Learn to Code at Miss Hall's School TUE WeeMuse: Littlest Learners at Berkshire Museum TUE Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum TUE Circus Minimus at Berkshire Athenaeum TUE Project SpaceCRAFT at Berkshire Athenaeum TUE Screening of Wall-E at Berkshire Athenaeum WED Little Gardeners of the Galaxy at Berkshire Athenaeum WED Solar System Paint & Snack at Berkshire Athenaeum WED Gallery Scavenger Hunts at Berkshire Museum THU Farm Friends at Hancock Shaker Village | THU Exploring Our World at Berkshire Museum THU Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum THU Lego Lift Off at Berkshire Athenaeum THU Story Time at Berkshire Athenaeum
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