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Amid pressure from Sandisfield health officials, a nursing home solves its hot water, kitchen problems

Berkshire Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Facility in Sandisfield (copy)

An inspection revealed unsanitary conditions and a lack of hot water at Berkshire Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Facility in Sandisfield, a home for veterans. The facility fixed the problems quickly amid pressure from town health officials. By Tuesday night, the new boiler was working and the kitchen professionally cleaned.

SANDISFIELD — Amid pressure from town health officials, the kitchen in a nursing home for veterans has hot water again and the kitchen has been professionally cleaned.

In a late night inspection Tuesday of Berkshire Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center, acting Health Agent Jayne Smith found that the facility completed the tasks in her correction orders.

The hot water boiler to the kitchen was running and a contractor had scrubbed the kitchen “top to bottom” and cleared the stove’s grease trap.

Smith said she’ll be inspecting the facility on 7 Sandisfield Road monthly to ensure compliance.

It was Smith’s surprise inspection of the septic system Saturday as well as a check on the kitchen that alerted her to the violations of health regulations, and a lack of hot water for washing dishes as well as kitchen laundry.

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Staff had been boiling water in pots to make do. Smith ordered the facility to halt all food preparation and buy pre-made food from a vendor, then serve it using disposable dinnerware.

The Board of Health called an emergency meeting Monday with management from the facility’s owner, Athena Health Care Systems, a for-profit company based in Farmington, Conn.

A company spokesperson said delivery of a new boiler and some parts had been delayed one month, and that the hot water had been out for around 45 days when a “temporary fix” that previously kept the boiler running failed.

An Aug. 5 inspection by the state Department of Public Health found thick layers of dust, burnt food and a clogged grease trap.

It also found that staff did not have a cleaning schedule and lacked both the equipment and training to properly sanitize the kitchen.

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

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