COVID-19 UpdatesHCN News & Notes

Berkshire Healthcare Systems Converts Former East Longmeadow Skilled Nursing Center to COVID Recovery Center

PITTSFIELD — Pittsfield-based Berkshire Healthcare Systems (BHCS) announced it will temporarily convert the now-vacant, former East Longmeadow Skilled Nursing Center into a COVID recovery center. Berkshire Healthcare, which owns and operates the facility, recently replaced the older nursing home with a new, 131-room skilled-nursing center. The new skilled-nursing center will be unaffected by the creation of the recovery center in the former facility. Both the new and former centers sit on the Meadows Crossing Campus adjacent to Baystate Health and Wellness Center.

Bill Jones, president of Berkshire Healthcare, said BHCS has been asked by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) to assist in responding to the current public-health crisis. Gov. Charlie Baker and DPH have concluded that having a sufficient number of these dedicated facilities across the state is essential to successfully managing the expected surge of COVID-19 patients in communities. Berkshire Healthcare has been at the table with DPH since this process was initiated to collaborate and support efforts designed to address this significant challenge.

The former East Longmeadow Skilled Nursing Center is designated as a center that accepts and treats only COVID-19 patients. It will accept patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 who no longer need to be in a hospital setting, but cannot yet return home due to their health status. This site will also be available in the event of a surge that requires area hospitals to discharge patients sooner than anticipated to free up needed inpatient hospital beds to care for sicker patients. It will be renamed the Pioneer Valley Recovery Center.

The COVID recovery center will open today, April 14, and will initially offer one unit of 26 private rooms. Two other units with 23 and 20 private rooms, respectively, will be brought online as demand for services dictates.

“Being a collaborative and responsible community partner is vital to Berkshire Healthcare’s mission” Jones said. “We believe the time is now for us to step forward and provide solutions that will help our region survive the projected surge of cases that will need our care. We appreciate the support of our community members as we respond to this public-health crisis.

“Our team will be working collaboratively with Baystate Health, community-based physicians, and advanced-practice practitioners who have agreed to support to this new center,” he added. “Their involvement will be important in managing the care needs of patients across the continuum. We are grateful for their collective commitment to this project and to our patients and their families. The East Longmeadow Board of Health, fire chief, emergency medical response providers, and other local government agencies have also been tremendously helpful in our efforts, and we are appreciative of their assistance and support as well.”