More rural hospitals face closure over financial woes

A Massachusetts community hospital abruptly closed its doors last week, while another facility in Northern California is on the brink of insolvency and closure.

North Adams Regional Hospital, operated by the Northern Berkshire Health Care system, shut its doors with three days' notice last month, reported. The hospital has liabilities of $50 million but assets of only $10 million, according to another MassLive article. It was the only acute care facility serving the northwestern region of Massachusetts. One of the next-nearest hospitals is over the border in Vermont.

Meanwhile, the board of directors of Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol, Calif., voted earlier this week to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, essentially guaranteeing that its assets would be liquidated and the hospital would cease operations.

"By April 28, we will be out of money," Palm Drive Trustee Nancy Dobbs told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. The hospital has been hit by lower Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, as well as increasing care-delivery costs. Palm Drive previously filed for bankruptcy 2007, and had to sell bonds in order to emerge from the Chapter 11 filing, according to the article.

Rural facilities such as North Adams and Palm Drive have been hit hard in recent years by reimbursement cuts, among other issues. Lawmakers in both Georgia and New Mexico have put together plans to help keep the doors of such facilities open.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has intervened to try and get North Adams reopened later this month under the license of Berkshire Medical Center, the Boston Globe reported. The state will likely inject several million dollars into the effort, according to the Globe.

A physician group has expressed interest in operating Palm Drive, but is concerned state regulators would pull its license if its closes its doors completely, complicating the reopening process.

To learn more
- read the article
- read the second MassLive article
- read the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat article
- read the Boston Globe article