Reopened hospital awaits critical designation

North Adams (Mass.) Regional Hospital reopened in March after abruptly closing a decade ago, but the hospital is still awaiting the critical access hospital designation that allowed its new owner to reopen the facility, The Berkshire Eagle reported June 23.

The hospital, owned by Pittsfield, Mass.-based Berkshire Health Systems, was not eligible to become a critical access hospital when it closed in 2014 after its previous owners filed for bankruptcy. Since then, the critical access hospital criteria have changed, making the hospital now eligible for designation. Berkshire CEO Darlene Rodowicz has said the designation triggers reimbursements that would prevent the hospital from operating at a loss. 

The process to secure the needed state and federal approvals began last summer and is nearing completion, according to the report. The hospital cannot pay for patients through the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement that comes with being a critical access hospital until the Massachusetts Department of Public Health conducts an unannounced survey and determines the hospital satisfies the requirements.

The department conducted a survey in March and reported back to the hospital with recommendations for improvement, according to the report. A Berkshire spokesperson told the news outlet that the hospital addressed the recommendations.

There is no deadline for when a final decision must be made on whether North Adams can become a critical access hospital, according to the report. As it waits, the hospital is providing inpatient observation and outpatient services "through the prospective payment system and other available reimbursement methodologies," according to the report.

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