Hillcrest nursing COVID

The state Department of Public Health deployed a rapid response team to Hillcrest Commons Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Pittsfield on Sunday to help with urgent staffing needs amid a COVID-19 outbreak. Nursing homes in the county are beginning to see a resurgence of the virus.

PITTSFIELD — Amid mounting COVID-19 infections and staffing shortages, the state sent a rapid response team to Hillcrest Commons Nursing & Rehabilitation Center on Sunday.

Cases there jumped from 21 to 30 over the weekend, with 19 residents and 11 employees infected as of Sunday. On Monday, the cases at Hillcrest rose again — to 28 residents and 14 staff members, for a total of 42.

And the number of cases at Kimball Farms Nursing Care Center in Lenox rose from 17 to 21; 16 residents and five staff have tested positive.

Positive test results also have emerged at other facilities in the county also owned by Berkshire Healthcare Systems, according to Sunday’s data posted to the company’s website Monday.

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

Fairview Commons Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Great Barrington has two employees who have tested positive, one of whom also was working at Mount Greylock Extended Care Facility in Pittsfield. Williamstown Commons Nursing & Rehabilitation Center has one infected staff member.

The state Department of Public Health on Friday sent two epidemiologists to Hillcrest to assess the situation and help with infection control as cases began to rise.

The facility had managed to stay virus-free since the beginning of the pandemic until the latest spike in the community.

Then, on Sunday, the DPH deployed 10 nurses and an operations manager there through a private contractor, something the agency began doing April for nursing homes with urgent staff needs associated with outbreaks. Hillcrest currently has 224 residents.

Lisa Gaudet, vice president of business development and marketing for Berkshire Healthcare Systems, said the state moved quickly to help with staffing needs. She previously has said the company now is much better able to manage the situation than it was in the spring. It has stockpiled masks and other protective equipment, and has trained employees in special COVID-19 safety.

The outbreaks mirror a spike in cases across the community over the past two weeks.

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.

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

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

@BE_hbellow.