BMCEXTERIOR

Just under 370 Massachusetts residents had been treated with the monoclonal antibody therapy by the start of the year, according to the Department of Public Health. At that point, Berkshire Health Systems was responsible for administering one out of every five doses.

PITTSFIELD — In the wake of an increasing number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the Berkshires, Berkshire Medical Center has further updated its visitation guidelines, effective Wednesday, Dec. 3.

Community spread of COVID-19 has risen dramatically in recent weeks, after reports of unrestricted and non-socially distant large gatherings, which has resulted in a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 hospital admissions and cases.

BMC says it continues to provide safe, comprehensive patient care services, both inpatient and outpatient, and these new visitation restrictions are designed to help maintain a safe environment for BMC staff and patients.

The guidelines now include:

• Medical/Surgical, Critical Care, Progressive Care, Behavioral Health, Rehab, Family Birth Center and Pediatrics: No visitation.

• Emergency Department: No visitors in the department, including the lobby.

• End-of-Life Circumstances: Based on individual circumstances.

• Ambulatory surgery/Endoscopy/Crane Center: A companion can drop off patient, leave the building and return to pick up patient and receive discharge instructions if needed.

• No visitation for patients suspected of or testing positive for COVID-19.

Although visitation is restricted at this time, there are certain exceptions for designated support persons, such as: one birth partner; one parent of a child 18 or younger at a time; one designated support person for patients with intellectual, cognitive, or physical disabilities; one attorney; end-of-life companion in approved circumstances.

All designated support persons are required to follow the following guidelines: Only enter through the main entrance or emergency department; be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure; sign in, show ID and be given a visitor badge; always wear a mask; must go directly to the patient’s room; perform hand hygiene before entering and upon leaving the patient’s room; remain in the patient’s room during their entire visit; always maintain a 6-foot distance from patient, if possible; and do not eat or drink in the patient’s room.

“BMC understands the importance of staying connected to loved ones,” said Dr. James Lederer, chief medical officer/chief quality officer, in a prepared statement. “To facilitate this, we encourage digital visits to assure contact between patients and loved ones. Our staff can help set up an electronic visit using our equipment or the patient’s own device.”

For more information on visitation guidelines and the coronavirus in Berkshire County, visit berkshirehealthsystems.org/coronavirus.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989. She can be reached at jmaschino@berkshireeagle.com.