BHS Relaxing COVID-19 Infection Control Guideline
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In recognition of this progress and after careful review of all relevant public health data and information, Berkshire Health Systems (BHS) is relaxing many of its COVID-19 infection control guidelines effective Thursday, May 11, 2023, when both the state and federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency declarations will expire.
It has been more than three years since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Berkshire County. Over the past three years, Berkshire Health Systems and the healthcare community at-large have evolved in their understanding of the virus and how best to support the community.
BHS stated in a press release that they know that COVID-19 will likely maintain an ongoing presence in Berkshire County, and in response, both caregivers and community members are ready with the tools necessary to manage and prevent its transmission.
BHS's number one priority remains ensuring safe care environments for patients, staff, and community members in all areas of operations, including infection control and prevention of COVID-19 and similar viruses. BHS reported that they will continue to monitor and adapt as necessary to all public health data, information from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The following changes will apply to all patients, visitors, and community members across Berkshire Health Systems facilities effective May 11, 2023. BHS reserve the right to issue further changes as appropriate based on public health data and guidance.
Universal masking is no longer required at BHS. This includes ambulatory, acute, and home care settings.
Patients, visitors, and staff members may wear a mask if they wish, and BHS encourages anyone to do so if they feel it will benefit their health and wellness. To ensure care environments are physically and emotionally safe, patients may request that their care providers wear a mask. All such requests will be honored.
Note that any patient or visitor who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days or who is symptomatic (fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat) must mask immediately upon entering a BHS facility and notify a staff member of their status. Home care patients who have tested positive in the past 10 days or are symptomatic must mask immediately upon the arrival of the BVNA clinician.
BHS asks all patients and visitors to self-screen upon arrival at any BHS facility. Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 10 days or has a fever, cough, sore throat, or runny nose must wear a mask and inform a BHS staff member of their condition immediately upon check-in.
The above guidance will be posted outside all BHS facilities and in all patient registration areas. Staff will have masks on-hand to distribute to anyone who meets one or more of these criteria.
BVNA clinicians will continue to pre-screen patients prior their scheduled visits and will advise patients to mask if they are symptomatic or recently tested positive for COVID-19.
As of May 11, 2023, pre-procedure COVID testing will be discontinued. Any patients with existing testing appointments scheduled through May 31, 2023, can keep those appointments. Patients with test appointments scheduled further out than May 31, 2023, will be notified of cancellation.
Pre-anesthesia screening of patients will continue in accordance with regular pre-operative procedures.
If a patient arrives on the day of the procedure with symptoms, providers will perform a rapid COVID-19 test. A patient who tests positive may have their procedure rescheduled.
BHS will continue to test all patients in the Emergency Department before admission to BMC or Fairview Hospital, whether or not they are symptomatic. Tests will be processed by the BHS in-house laboratory in order to return the quickest possible results.
The three COVID-19 testing centers in North Adams, Pittsfield, and Great Barrington will be closed by the end of May due to overall low demand for tests and the broad availability of at-home COVID-19 test kits. Visit https://www.berkshirehealthsystems.org/covid/covid-19-testing-centers
for complete details on the final date of operation for each location.
Tags: BHS, BMC, COVID-19,
More Coronavirus Updates
Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 news: