Berkshire Health Systems Expands Visitation

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — As the infection rate of COVID-19 in the Berkshires continues to decline, Berkshire Health Systems has expanded Visitation for Berkshire Medical Center, Fairview Hospital and BMC and Fairview Physician Practices, effective Tuesday, March 1, 2022. 
 
In most cases, except for the Emergency Departments and Critical Care Units, the new Visitation Guidelines allow for two visitors. The detailed policy can be found online at www.berkshirehealthsystems.org/visitor-guidelines.
 
"We are pleased to announce that BHS is taking cautious steps to reopen our facilities to the public," said Dr. James Lederer, BHS Chief Medical Officer/Chief Quality Officer. "Our goal is to ensure the safety of each of our patients, while also enabling increased access to the healthcare programs and services that our community members need. As always, we will carefully adhere to guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)."
 
For the non-Critical Care Units, including Medical/Surgical Units, two visitors are allowed with adult non-COVID-19 patients. For adult COVID-19 patients in non-critical care units, no visitation is allowed unless a designated exception applies, and video visits will be made available. Patients in Critical Care with COVID-19 are permitted two care partner/visitors per day viewing through a window for up to 30 minutes and video visits can be arranged.
 
For non-COVID-19 pediatric patients, two parents/guardians/care partners are allowed, and for COVID-19 pediatric patients, one parent/guardian/care partner is permitted.
 
In the BMC and Fairview Emergency Departments and the Satellite Emergency Facility at the North Adams Campus of BMC, one care partner at a time can stay with the adult patient if there is no COVID-19 diagnosis and for pediatric patients, two parents/guardians or care partners can stay with the patient. For those with a COVID-19 diagnosis, no care partners allowed for adult patients unless there is a designated exception, and for children with a COVID diagnosis, two parents/guardians or care partners are allowed at all times.
 
In the Family Birthplace at BMC and Fairview, one designated birth partner is allowed at all times and two siblings are allowed, escorted by a birth partner, between 3 and 8 pm. If the expectant mother has COVID-19, the designated birth partner may stay in the patient's room.
 
There are no visitors allowed in the Behavioral Health units unless there is a designated exception. A family meeting can be arranged with a behavioral health provider and video visits can be arranged.
 
Non-COVID-19 patients coming to the hospital for outpatient testing and services can have one care partner accompany them. Those with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis or test should contact their provider to determine if an in-person visit is recommended, and if so, no one may accompany the patient to the office or testing/service location. These guidelines also apply to physician practices, the BMC Cancer & Infusion Center and other ambulatory services.
 
For more information, including a list of designated exceptions, visit www.berkshirehealthsystems.org/visitor-guidelines

Tags: BHS,   BMC,   

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Pittsfield Rallies for Reproductive Rights

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Nearly 200 people gathered at Park Square on Sunday in solidary with reproductive rights and to mourn the Supreme Court's overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

"My wish is that we can take this energy that's here today and all the people that didn't work out to be here today, to really take this energy and to funnel it so that we can take real action," state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier said.

"And the change is not something that's going to happen in a couple of months or even a couple of years but we have to be as strong as the opposition because we know we're that we're the majority, it's just that so far, we're not the majority that votes. So we've got to get to work, we need to do it strategically and persistently."

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday voted to reverse the 1973 decision that legalized abortion across the nation. This ruling means that there is no longer a federal constitutional right to an abortion and it undermines other right to privacy decisions including contraception, marriage and medical issues. 

"It's pretty shattering," Elizabeth Freeman Center Executive Director Janis Broderick said. "It brings us back more than 50 years."

Massachusetts is one of 35 states, including the District of Columbia, where it is still legal to have the procedure after the ruling. Abortions are potentially illegal or soon to be illegal in at least 11 states and illegal in five, according to Politico.com.

On Friday, Republican Gov. Charlier Baker signed an executive order protecting access to reproductive health care services in the commonwealth. The order gives health-care professionals protection from legal liability from professional sanctions issued under the laws of other states.

"I am deeply disappointed in today's decision by the Supreme Court which will have major consequences for women across the country who live in states with limited access to reproductive health care services," Baker said. "The commonwealth has long been a leader in protecting a woman's right to choose and access to reproductive health services, while other states have criminalized or otherwise restricted access."

Numerous officials have weighed in, with District Attorney Andrea Harrington saying the reversal "threatens the health and safety of women nationwide by limiting access to safe reproductive health care and undermining the public's trust in law enforcement."
 
"Abortion bans disproportionately harm sexual abuse, rape, incest, human trafficking, and domestic violence victims," she said. "This decision will only strip survivors of gender-based violence of their safety, dignity, and autonomy and severely jeopardizes our ability to hold criminals accountable."
 
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren called it a "five-alarm fire" and with other Democrats called on the president "to mobilize a whole-of-government response to protect abortion rights."
 
Two Republican candidates for office cheered the decision, with gubernatorial hopeful Geoff Diehl and Leah Allen, endorsed by the party for lieutenant governor, said they supported "the proper interpretation of our Constitution" by placing the question of abortion back to the states. 
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