Broke health system files for bankruptcy to restructure debt

As other institutions around the country may be struggling, Northern Berkshire Healthcare, parent company of North Adams Regional Hospital, in Massachusetts this week filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, plagued with a $50-$100 million debt, reports the Boston Business Journal.

The board of directors of the nonprofit health system in May voted to file bankruptcy and terminate the pension plan. All employees were then moved to a 403B retirement account, in which Northern Berkshire will continue to pay out funds that have already been accrued, according to the article.

Last year, Northern Berkshire signed a consolidation deal that included Northern Berkshire Community Services, North Adams Regional Hospital, and Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice of Northern Berkshire, Inc.

The bankruptcy should not affect patient care or services, Northern Berkshire Director of Community Relations Paul Hopkins told the Boston Business Journal.

In addition, the bankruptcy status will not affect staffing's pay or pension benefits, according to CEO Richard Palmisano in an iBerkshires article.

"I think what is critical is that people hear the word bankruptcy, they think of liquidation," said Palmisano. "That's not the case here. I think a better analogy would be what happened when General Motors emerged from bankruptcy with a level [of debt] they could sustain."

Northern Berkshire Healthcare plans to move its pension to the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. and change status to a critical access hospital, reports iBerkshires.

To learn more:
- read the Boston Business Journal article
- here's the iBerkshires article

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