Becoming a Massachussettsian*

It’s funny how a town you’ve never been to can grow on you within a few days. Five, in fact.

Last Tuesday, I was startled to read that a hospital in North Adams, Mass., was abruptly closing in just three days.

Starting on Wednesday, I began to meet the hundreds of people who didn’t know what their future would look like. They told me their town of 13 and half thousand people would not survive without North Adams Regional Hospital (NARH). I met the daughter who moved within walking distance of the facility to ensure her mother, her children, and she would have immediate access to health care. And I joked with the Mayor who showed shock in his eyes but fearlessness in his words as he promised to do whatever he could to bring the hospital back.

 

And I kept at it for the next four (work)days.

 

Each day came with its own burdens, hurdles and stress. Daily, sometime in the mid-afternoon, there would be a late-breaking development. For a reporter who’s off the clock at 6 p.m., any news at 3 or 4 o’clock when it takes over an hour to travel is not welcome news. This led to late hours, extreme hustling to meet deadlines, and getting the necessary news out.

I was there a lot.

I was there a lot.

 

As exhausting as it was to make the drive daily (the trip from Albany to North Adams was at least an hour and 10 minutes), I came to welcome these views as I crossed the Taconic Mountains from the Empire State to the Bay one.

 

After a storm

 

Those mountain tops. Stunning.

 

It meant, that after all the winding, the bumps, the steep precipices, the curves beyond which I couldn’t see… there would be a city that I could try to help through my work.

It meant that I would soon start recognizing certain landmarks and towns.

It meant that I could give one of the recently unemployed leaders of the Massachusetts Nursing Union a hug.

It meant that I could stop by City Hall and get a heart-to-heart from Mayor Alcombright.

It meant that I would head down Main Street to pick up a muffin from Luma’s Muffin and Mug.

 

In less than five days, I found another home to love.

 

 

This is what I love about the news business.

—-

For some of the coverage I provided, check out these links:

Patients Respond

Adjusting to Health Provider Changes

Temporary Injunction Falls Through

The Unemployed Look to the Next Step

State Leaders Address NARH Crisis

 

*I don’t know if Massachussettsian is actually a word. I found it somewhere on the Interwebs and liked it.

 

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