PITTSFIELD — A city hotel temporarily designated as a state "isolation and recovery site" for homeless people who tested positive for COVID-19 has returned to business as usual.
From April 17 to June 2, the Hilton Garden Inn was one of six hotels used by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to house and care for people without shelter.
Seventeen people were cared for at the 1032 South St. hotel by nurses contracted to provide 24-7 attention, including meals and medical treatments. The homeless patients were not sick enough to be hospitalized, but required isolation until they were cleared to leave to avoid transmission of the disease. Samantha Phillips, director of MEMA, said the six hotels served as isolation and recovery sites for people who are homeless, housing insecure or otherwise did not have a safe place to isolate while in recovery. The patients were transported to the nearest regional center from where they were tested and received a positive diagnosis, she said.
The other sites included hotels in Everett, Lexington, Northampton, Taunton and Worcester. Boston operated its own centers. The state has since consolidated these operations, leaving only the Everett and Northampton isolation and recovery sites open.
People needing access to these sites can call 617-367-5150 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Phillips said MEMA and its partners developed a "very different standard operating procedure" for these sites, compared with other disaster response protocols. For example, because of the pandemic, people could be sheltered in a congregate setting like a school cafeteria or gymnasium. The system included special attention to cleaning and sanitation, she said.
"I'm glad we went through it. It's a good tool to have and I hope that we'll be able to replicate that for the future," Phillips said.