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Southern Vt. hospital prepares for closing of hospital nearby - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Southern Vt. hospital prepares for closing of hospital nearby

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BENNINGTON, Vt. -

The future of a Massachusetts hospital that serves and employs Southern Vermonters remains uncertain. After North Adams Regional Hospital announced Tuesday that it would close, officials have stepped up to say efforts are being made to have the facility continue to function in some capacity.

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center sits just 18 miles from North Adams Regional Hospital. Those who work there say the two hospitals are like family.

"Our heart goes out to that community and the staff of the hospital," said Dr. Trey Dobson from SVMC.

With the announcement Tuesday that North Adams is set to close Friday, patients may be left scrambling to find medical care.

With a possible influx of patients, SVMC says they are prepared to handle the extra people needing care.

Hospital officials say they have a plan in place for the anticipated 20 percent increase in patients. One area they expect to see an increase is in emergency room visits.

"We know their emergency department is pretty busy, so we are up staffing our emergency department and making plans with space to take care of a larger volume of patients than we normally do," said Dobson.

Another is with patients who are due to give birth in the immediate future.

"We anticipate that they have about 30 births per month and we've been in conversations with the nurses in the nursery as well as the physicians taking care of the patients," said Dobson.

The hospital is also concerned about their colleagues in medicine who may find themselves out of work.

"We have been working with our human resource department in order to do an assessment of what positions may be available here," said Carol Conroy from SVMC.

The town of Bennington, where SVMC is located, says it is also taking precautionary measures although they do not expect a huge impact.

"Our police chief is talking with their security personnel, just to understand the implications from a security perspective at the hospital, with some of the patients they may be seeing from North Adams," said Stuart Hurd, Bennington town manager.

Bennington and the hospital say they are ready to step up if needed amid a fluid situation.

"We don't have the exact numbers yet, because we are gonna flux depending on what volume we see," said Dobson.

SVMC says it will be participating in a job fair early next month at North Adams. Any patients with questions or concerns may call SVMC for more information.

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