Family members speak out on COVID-19 outbreak at Pittsfield nursing home

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)- A Pittsfield nursing home is getting hit hard by the coronavirus, nearly 9 months into this pandemic.

The virus has infected over half of its residents, and killed four since Thanksgiving. The nursing home is tucked away off of Valentine Road, and is partially hidden behind trees.

Hillcrest Commons is the second largest nursing home facility in the state, housing 224 residents. They reported just three active COVID-19 cases on November 18th, and in 12 days that number became 175.

Pittsfield’s Board of Health Chair Dr. Alan Kulberg told 22News, “Many long-term care facilities in the state have become likewise infected, especially a facility like Hillcrest Commons. They had not seen any cases from the beginning of the pandemic until now.”

Its been a scary time for family members and its taken some days to find out that their loved ones were infected.

“They never contacted families prior to that day [that she found out grandfather was infected]. I did ask on the phone with the nurse practitioner when he did test positive, but she didn’t have a date for me. After going through her papers, she didn’t have any information for me at all,” said Stephanie Bartolotta, granddaughter of an infected resident.

“We know that we haven’t been able to get to every single one every time, but we have a process in place that’s much stronger and will facilitate the communication,” said Jill Zucco, Vice President of Operations for Berkshire Healthcare.

The facility is conducting a cause analysis to figure out how the virus got in and spread, but what they’re finding is that many of the people who tested positive, were asymptomatic.

Zucco said, “People were not symptomatic and didn’t believe they were ill. That was the time there was a lot of shedding the virus.”

Berkshire Healthcare said they have been in contact with the DPH every week since the outbreak began. They’re finding success in their recovery process for staff and residents.

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