PITTSFIELD — Residents of a Pittsfield nursing home sickened with COVID-19 continue to receive a potentially life-saving therapy, with new treatments delivered Wednesday. But the numbers still speak to woe inside the 255 Lebanon Ave. facility, near Pittsfield’s airport.
The outbreak this month, following an earlier surge in cases at Hillcrest Commons, has claimed at least three lives at Springside Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center, according to the center’s required self-reporting to the state.
Because the reporting system allows nursing homes to provide a range of deaths, the number of people lost at Springside on three specific days this month could be as high as 12. Each of the three reports carried a range of one to four deaths.
The presence of COVID-19 inside Springside continues to prompt outside intervention by a National Guard team in place since Jan. 8, “daily” interaction with the state Department of Public Health and on-site guidance from a state epidemiologist. The DPH says it helped to arrange the launch of monoclonal antibody treatments to residents at Springside, with staff at Berkshire Medical Center providing the therapy.
As of Tuesday, Springside reported 53 active cases among residents and 28 active cases among its staff; the numbers are the most recent available. To date, 127 people at Springside have tested positive for COVID-19. The home is licensed for 112 beds.
The deaths at Springside occurred Jan. 4, Jan. 7 and Jan. 11, according to what are known as Chapter 93 reports to the DPH. Each daily report refers to new cases or deaths the previous day.
As The Eagle has reported, Alberta Mary Harris, died at age 100 Jan. 7 after receiving a positive test for COVID-19. Her death certificate lists COVID-19 as a secondary factor, with cardiopulmonary arrest as the principal cause of death.
James Clark Leach, who was recuperating at Springside from a broken tibia, died Jan. 11, at age 93. In his obituary, family members wrote: “Jim developed the Covid 19 virus, which sadly claimed his life.”
An executive with BaneCare, the company that owns the Springside, said Wednesday that 20 residents and 10 staff have recovered or completed isolation.
A spokeswoman for the DPH said the state called on Springside to halt new admissions on Jan. 8. On that day, resident cases of COVID-19 rose to 33 with 14 staff cases — or 47 in all, up 42 in a week. The center had begun the year with five resident cases.
The halt on admissions is intended to protect other residents, the DPH says.
Three days later, on Jan. 11, a team from the National Guard arrived to bolster staffing at Springside, given the number of staff in isolation after positive tests. Guard members are providing clinical support to residents, according to the DPH.
The department launched that “rapid response” effort across Massachusetts last April, when the virus began to hit the caregiving ranks within healthcare organizations. Along with members of the National Guard, the response can include caregivers hired through DPH contracts with agency staff.
Nancy Zappolo, a BaneCare vice president, said Springside staff is working with state health officials. “We continue to work closely with DPH to reduce the number of cases,” she said in an email in response to questions.
When asked to clarify how many COVID-19 deaths Springside has seen, Zappolo suggested that The Eagle use the range provided by the Chapter 93 filings, of three to 12 deaths. BaneCare has previously declined to publicly report deaths, saying the information is best released through the DPH’s platforms.
Zappolo confirmed that use of the novel antibody regimen continues in an effort to strengthen the disease-fighting resources of those infected.
“Regarding monoclonal antibody therapy, we did a third round of treatments today,” she said Wednesday, “and are evaluating with Berkshire Medical Center the possibility of more.”
The DPH spokeswoman said that admissions will resume after conditions improve at Springside. Zappolo said the decision to remove the halt to admissions will be based on meeting goals related to testing as well as evaluation and assessment by the DPH.
As of Tuesday, 86 residents and 41 staff at Springside have tested positive, according to BaneCare’s most recent daily online post.