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Judge approves sale of bankrupt North Adams hospital

Berkshire Medical Center, which was the sole bidder for the defunct North Adams Regional Hospital, plans to close on the $4 million purchase in late August.

Matthew Cavanaugh for The Boston Globe/file 2014

Berkshire Medical Center, which was the sole bidder for the defunct North Adams Regional Hospital, plans to close on the $4 million purchase in late August.

A judge has cleared the way for Berkshire Medical Center to acquire the former North Adams Regional Hospital, a deal that will preserve some services, four months after the hospital suddenly closed amid a financial tailspin.

Berkshire, which was the sole bidder for the defunct hospital, plans to close on the $4 million purchase in late August. A judge approved the sale Thursday in bankruptcy court in Springfield.

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The North Adams facility no longer has inpatient services, but Berkshire is operating a satellite emergency room there, which sees about 50 to 60 patients a day, said Michael Leary, spokesman for Pittsfield-based Berkshire Health Systems, the medical center’s parent company. Diagnostic imaging services, such as MRI’s, are also available.

Berkshire also has maintained the physician’s practices and home care and hospice services that were affiliated with the former North Adams hospital.

“We’re trying to help the community in northern Berkshire County to restore services and create viable longterm services,” Leary said.

The North Adams facility has been renamed the Northern Berkshire Campus of Berkshire Medical Center. The main campus of Berkshire Medical Center is about 20 miles away in Pittsfield. Patients who seek emergency services in North Adams are transported to Pittsfield if they need inpatient care.

“This is another important step on the road to our ultimate goal, which is the restoration of a full-service hospital to serve Northern Berkshire County,” said David Schildmeier, spokesman for the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents nurses who work in North Adams and Pittsfield. “They do need more than an emergency room.”

North Adams Regional Hospital closed abruptly in March and filed for bankruptcy, laying off 500 workers and leaving residents of the small city discouraged and angry.

About 150 of the laid-off workers have returned to their jobs under Berkshire’s management. The health system is waiting for the results of a consultant’s report before deciding whether to restore inpatient services.

“We’re looking at what the study will say, what space will be needed for the services that will be sustainable,” Leary said.

Attorney General Martha Coakley called the sale to Berkshire a substantial step in preserving essential health services. North Adams Mayor Richard J. Alcombright said the sale ends some of the uncertainty around the future of health care in his city.

“We just want good quality medical services here,” he said. “I think we’re rebuilding toward that right now. We’ve got a great partner in Berkshire.”

Priyanka Dayal McCluskey can be reached at priyanka.mccluskey@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal.
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