Devonshire Estates on lockdown after norovirus outbreak

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LENOX — Lockdown conditions are in effect at Devonshire Estates after a "significant number" of residents at the senior living facility reported suffering "flu-like symptoms common with norovirus," according to a letter circulated by Devonshire's management team.

On Monday, the letter informed residents of the incident and mandated temporary restrictions to prevent any worsening of conditions among residents.

"We are taking steps to minimize the spread of the virus and request your help and support," the management team's letter said.

The letter informed residents of the shutting down of all common areas, including the dining room — meals were to be delivered to people's doors — the cancellation of all group activities and performances and asked them to stay in their apartments and limit guests.

Management posted signs around the campus informing visitors of the prevailing conditions.

"We were told that [the restrictions] would be effective for three full days, then a decision would be made," one Devonshire Estates residents, who himself suffered the illness but recovered said. "Well, now they have extended it effective this morning an additional three-plus days, through Saturday. I'm told at least four more cases were reported."

The resident spoke to The Eagle under the condition of anonymity. He estimated as few as 20 and as many as 40 or more of the 100-plus facility population had fallen ill.

"In effect, an almost complete lockdown continues," he said. "There's almost no activity [among residents]."

When The Eagle contacted James J. Wilusz, the executive director of public health at the Tri-Town Health Department in Lenox, he expressed frustration at not being notified of the situation. The orders, he said, were self-administered by Devonshire.

He immediately called the organization.

"I told them in the future they need to contact me when things like this happen," Wilusz said. "If there are suspected cases of more than one illness, then it would be nice to be notified, because I can help."

Devonshire Estates told Wilusz there were "no confirmed cases of norovirus" but "a couple cases of people with signs of the flu."

Also known as "winter vomiting bug," norovirus is very contagious and causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

A clerk who declined to identify herself also expressed frustration when reached for comment — frustration at The Eagle.

"Why would you be doing a story when, like, one person has the flu," the clerk said. "Flu is rampant in this whole area [outside Devonshire] right now."

Wilusz identified the latter comment as untrue.

The Eagle also left a message with the media spokesperson for the company that owns Devonshire, Holiday Retirement, but that call was not returned.

Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.


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