GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Frustrated Franklin County residents met with local nurses and community leaders on Wednesday to talk about difficult access to health care.
Wednesday's public forum hosted by the Massachusetts Nurses Association on health care services in Franklin County could be just one of many more to come.
Residents talked about some of the challenges they experienced here at Baystate Franklin Medical Center and now they want solutions.
From long wait times to difficulty finding specialty care, hundreds of Franklin County residents discussed on Wednesday how they can help improve health care services in their region.
The focus of the talk, their experiences at one of the largest providers, Baystate Franklin Medical Center.
Many residents told 22News if they can't find a doctor or a service they need at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, they have to drive 40 miles to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield; and they say finding a way to get there can be a challenge.
Baystate Franklin's nurse Donna Stern told 22News, "You are talking about folks who don't have access to public transportation. Then you have to look at your transportation. You have to look at your insurance. What kind of coverage do I have? I want to be local."
Staying local, parents say, is crucial if a child needs to stay overnight at the hospital.
Janina Thayer of Greenfield said, "Not everyone has two or three cars or has the luxury of taking time off work. And that mother probably will stay with her child at the hospital, leaving someone else to care for her other children at home."
Some people also said the hospital should consider expanding mental health services as well.
Greenfield Town Councilor Karen Renaud said, "When the economy suffers, people suffer. People don't have jobs, and I think that's when we really need mental health services more than anything else. We want to see our neighbors healthy."
Baystate Franklin Spokesperson Amy Swisher said, "Our partnership with Baystate Health has enabled us to bring a number of new physician specialists to Franklin County and to expand the range of services available."
Swisher also said only in extreme circumstances patients are sent to Springfield.