Berkshire Medical Center is now running an imaging center at the former North Adams Regional Hospital.
The center will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays in the same location where radiology services were provided before North Adams Regional Hospital closed March 28th. Pittsfield-based Berkshire Medical Center opened a satellite emergency facility at the campus in May.
“We have provided through the satellite emergency facility at the North Adams campus the ability to do emergency testing however we found that it was also necessary to restore general diagnostic imaging,” said BMC spokesman Michael Leary. “So our goal was to bring that service back to help out the primary care physicians and specialist physicians and their patients.”
Leary says BMC did see an increase in the number of Northern Berkshire patients making the 22 mile drive to the Pittsfield hospital for imaging services in between the hospital closure and the opening of the satellite facility. BMC’s Northern Berkshire Imaging Center, as it’s now called, provides x-ray, ultrasound, CT and MRI services. Leary says BMC is using the same large-bore MRI unit NARH installed in October, before parent company Northern Berkshire Healthcare went bankrupt.
“For all of the equipment that’s located at the Northern Berkshire Imaging Center it’s a mix of either picking up the lease arrangement on equipment like the MRI and continuing the lease with the vendor or through an agreement with bankruptcy trustee there was some equipment including general x-ray equipment that North Adams Regional Hospital had owned,” explained Leary.
NARH ran 10 to 14 scans a day and had been seeing an increase after installing the roughly $1 million unit and building a specially designed room to house it. The unit can accommodate a patient weighing up to 550 pounds. People of that size typically had to travel to Albany or Springfield for such services.
BMC’s parent company Berkshire Health Systems has filed a $4 million bid in U.S. Bankruptcy court to buy the North Adams site. So far it’s the only offer with bidding set to close July 31. Leary says BMC is in the process of applying for a federal license to provide mammography services at the newly opened imaging center.
“I believe that we would probably have a similar arrangement to what we have right now depending on when this licensure happens,” Leary said. “If this happens after the bankruptcy proceedings are completed and the full property is owned under Berkshire Health Systems then of course we would use the equipment that is located there.”
BMC has hired four former NARH radiology workers to staff the imaging center. BHS has hired more than 150 of the 530 former NBH employees at the satellite facility, physician practices, VNA and laboratory services. BMC is one of the area stakeholders working with the consulting firm Stroudwater Associates which the state has brought on to help determine the region’s healthcare needs and how best to meet them. Imaging services were among the needs identified at a recent community meeting organized by Stroudwater and union members. Of the more than 100 people there, most called for the return of a full-service hospital. Brian Haapala is leading the effort for Stroudwater.
“Our commitment to the process is to combine the statistical information with community feedback,” said Haapala.
Haapala anticipates Stroudwater will provide recommendations in mid- to late August. He says more input will be gathered before anything is finalized.