NORTH ADAMS, Mass., – Nearly five months after North Adams Regional Hospital suddenly closed, a job center opened in the town’s city hall to help those still unemployed.
Officials say 532 jobs were lost in the closure and nearly 200 still remain jobless in August.
“Kind of went down with the sinking ship, knowing we were doing that for the benefit of our patients and our clients,” said Beth Hinkley Mougin.
Mougin worked as a social worker, but like many after working 18 years for the hospital, it was hard to imagine what came next.
“You kind of go from hero to zero overnight,” she said.
Despite Berkshire Medical Center opening a satellite emergency room at the old hospital site, Mougin said that they only hired back roughly 150 of the NARH employees.
The center comes thanks to a $146,000 State Department of Labor grant through the Berkshire Works One Stop Career Center.
“Everybody who walks out of the door will walk out with a plan of action,” says Melanie Gelaznik, Program Operations Manager.
Previously, the group came to town every Friday to help the unemployed with skills ranging from resumes, interviews and computer skills. However, after seeing a greater need, the group decided to open a center full time open five days a week.
“They had a long work history with one employer and we are seeing more people coming into our doors, recognizing that they need some help–so this center will make their lives a little easier by being close to where they live,” said Gelaznik.
Mougin now hopes to become a part of the center by serving as a career counselor to former employees like herself.
“A really good opportunity to have something local, have potentially someone working with them that is also laid off, that knows their story and can help them with some skill development,” she said.
The center is located on the first floor of city hall and is open for former NARH employees Mondays through Thursdays. It is then open to the general public on Fridays.