Williamstown Commons window visits

Coronavirus outbreaks at the 265-bed Hillcrest Commons Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Pittsfield and at the 74-bed Kimball Farms Nursing Care Center in Lenox would be the first at a Berkshire County nursing home since the virus tore through the Williamstown Commons Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, above, last spring, killing 24 residents.

PITTSFIELD — As COVID infections spike in Pittsfield, cases also have mounted among residents and staff in nursing homes in Pittsfield and in Lenox.

In the past several days, 21 tests at the 265-bed Hillcrest Commons Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Pittsfield have returned positive results. Of those as of Friday afternoon, 13 infections are in residents and eight are in staff. Some test results are pending.

At the 74-bed Kimball Farms Nursing Care Center in Lenox, 14 residents and three employees are infected.

Two epidemiologists with the state Department of Public Health visited Hillcrest on Thursday to review infection-control methods, said Lisa Gaudet, spokesperson for Berkshire Healthcare, which owns both facilities and four others in the county.

The agency also wanted to learn what the facility had done right, she said, since it is the last of more than 400 nursing homes in the state to experience an outbreak.

Hillcrest currently has 224 residents.

“As we’ve learned along the way, the more you have community spread, you have more community spread, and that includes all aspects of the community,” Gaudet said.

She said all the company’s nursing homes had learned how to separate infected residents from others, and how to correctly use masks and other personal protective equipment. The company also has stockpiled PPE during the months when the spread had somewhat abated.

“It’s easier to navigate now than in March,” she said. “We’re better prepared to step into this next surge.”

On its website, the company also compiles test results for all its facilities and updates it daily by 5 p.m.

The outbreaks would be the first at a Berkshire County nursing home since the virus tore through the Williamstown Commons Nursing & Rehabilitation Center last spring, killing 24 residents.

The virus also had claimed four residents of Fairview Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Great Barrington.

Berkshire Healthcare also owns Williamstown, Fairview and 13 other nursing homes in the state, as well as three retirement homes.

Pittsfield has seen 204 positive tests in the past two weeks. Lee has had 19, Dalton has had 18 and Lenox has had 12.

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

@BE_hbellow.