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Berkshire Health Systems Vaccinating Employees

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It has been less than a month since Berkshire Medical Center was one of 21 hospitals selected to begin receiving the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 and have since vaccinated all willing staff out of Berkshire Health System's 3,200 employees.
BMC first received the Pfizer vaccine in early December and received a couple of hundred doses of the Moderna vaccine just before Christmas. 
Those getting vaccinations receive a vaccination card with the purpose of keeping track of which vaccine they received and the dosage, said Director of Media Relations Michael Leary. These cards can also serve as a reminder on when to get a second dose as both vaccines require two doses within a few weeks of each other for maximum protection.
Some health-care workers were posting their vaccination cards to social media to show their community that they were committed to stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus. Leary said he could not speak to how many employees had been inoculated at this point. 
The hospital has 49 patients on COVID-19 precautions and four pending tests and four patients in the swing unit at Fairview Hospital, according to the BMC website updated on Monday. The figures are the same as those posted last Thursday. However, there were seven more deaths in the hospital reported over the holiday weekend.
Thursday, New Year's Eve, the Emergency Department called a "Code Full" at about 3 p.m. because of surge in patient in the early afternoon.
There were reportedly 40 to 50 patients in treatment or waiting to be seen in the ER. Leary said this surge was not specifically related to the pandemic, as only a small percentage of people were seen for COVID-19 symptoms.
A Code Full indicates that a hospital unit is at capacity for the number of staff on duty. Staff is then increased to account for the shortage, which reportedly required some staff to stay and some to be called in.
"This doesn't happen often but it does happen several times a year," Leary said. "It can happen around any holiday time because your doctor's offices are generally not open."
According to Leary, within one to two hours after calling a Code Full, the situation was well under control.
"It really wasn't anything that we have not dealt with in the past," he said.

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MassWildlife Asks Public Not to Feed 'GE Deer'

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — If you have ever driven down New York Avenue and seen the deer grazing behind the fencing that encases General Electric's property, it is likely that you have been inclined to feed them.

Though this action is rooted in kindness, it is not healthy for the woodland friends and could be fatal, which is why MassWildlife has put up signs asking that residents do not throw food over the fences.

"Obviously, people see the deer in there and they probably think 'what are they going to eat? They're limited in there they're stuck in there.'  I will say, they're definitely not stuck in there," MassWildlife's wildlife biologist Nathan Buckhout said.

For decades, the deer have found an unlikely sanctuary in the former GE site that includes two landfills, Hill 78 and Building 71. Buckhout explained that they have been there for decades, spawning offspring and becoming completely self-sufficient within the fenced area.

"They're doing just fine," he said. "And they obviously are getting enough food and water, otherwise their population would be limited, they wouldn't be able to produce their offspring so there would be fewer fawns, and eventually they probably would have disappeared — but they haven't."

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