Hillcrest

Hillcrest Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Pittsfield has seen mounting COVID-19 infections over the past week. As of Thursday, new test results pushed the total number of cases to 106 among residents and staff. 

PITTSFIELD — The number of infected residents and staff at Hillcrest Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center shot to 92 as of Tuesday with the return of COVID-19 test results.

Of 224 current residents, 73 tested positive for the virus, as well as 19 staff.  

Lisa Gaudet, Berkshire Healthcare System's vice president of business development and marketing, said that for the most part, residents who tested positive have not fallen severely ill.

"Our medical team is encouraged by the status of our residents who are infected. Largely stable. We have a few residents at the hospital," she said.

The new numbers about infections, posted to the company website, represent a new high since cases began climbing last week and over the weekend. The numbers have not changed as of Wednesday's evening report.

The outbreak prompted the state Department of Public Health on Sunday to deploy a rapid response team of nurses and others to help with staffing shortages. Two days earlier, two DPH epidemiologists arrived at Hillcrest to assess the situation. 

Kimball Farms Nursing Care Center in Lenox, also owned by Berkshire Healthcare, has not seen a jump since 16 residents and five staff tested positive as of Monday. 

At Kimball Farms Life Care, a retirement community also in Lenox, four staff have tested positive.

Positive results have emerged at other facilities in the county also owned by the company, and those have remained the same as Monday's results. 

At North Adams Commons Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, one resident and one employee are infected.

Fairview Commons Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Great Barrington has one employee who tested positive, as does Mount Greylock Extended Care Facility in Pittsfield. Williamstown Commons Nursing & Rehabilitation Center has one infected staff member.

Data for all Berkshire County nursing homes could not be obtained Wednesday, as some are not posting it to their websites, and calls to company officials were not returned.

Two other facilities are reporting very few positive cases as of Tuesday. Both Craneville Place of Dalton Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center, and Springside Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center in Pittsfield, both reported that each had one resident and two staff who tested positive.

It is the first outbreak for Hillcrest, which managed to stay virus-free since the beginning of the pandemic until this latest spike in the community, according to Gaudet. 

And it is the first time cases have struck county nursing homes since the spring, when 24 residents died during an outbreak at Williamstown Commons. The virus also claimed four residents of Fairview Commons in Great Barrington.

As of September, nursing home residents have accounted for approximately 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., and nearly 66 percent in Massachusetts. The state has one of the highest nursing home death rates per population size in the U.S.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or 413-329-6871. On Twitter @BE_hbellow.