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Published: 01/2/2024

Winter Respiratory Viruses On the Rise: BHS Reinstitutes Masking and Updates Visitor Guidelines

In the wake of a significant increase in the incidence of respiratory illness locally, Berkshire Health Systems has resumed mandatory masking for staff, patients and visitors, and has instituted changes in its visitation policy, effective on Wednesday, January 3rd. The updated masking and visitation guidelines impact Berkshire Medical Center, Fairview Hospital, the North Adams and Hillcrest Campuses of BMC and BMC and Fairview provider practices across the county.

“The new year has brought with it a new wave of respiratory illness. As always, BHS has been monitoring the infection levels in our region so that we can act promptly and effectively to keep our patients, our staff, and our community as safe and as healthy as possible,” said James Lederer, MD, BHS Chief Medical Officer/Chief Quality Officer. “In response to the significant levels of all respiratory illnesses that we are seeing throughout our healthcare facilities and in our community at this time, BHS has decided to implement mandatory universal masking for all patients, visitors, and staff.”

Mandatory masking for patients, visitors, and staff will begin on Wednesday, January 3rd at 8:00am.

BHS has also updated its visitor policy to manage the risk of infection within its facilities by prohibiting anyone under 18 from visiting. The current BHS Visitation Policy can be viewed by visiting: https://www.berkshirehealthsystems.org/patient-resources/visitor-guidelines.

If individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past ten days or have any respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, or runny nose, they should not visit or accompany any patients for care.

These guidelines will be reviewed on a regular basis, and BHS will make adjustments based on the infectious disease data at the time.