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New England News

Leaked Email Reveals 800 BHS Staffers Are Unvaccinated Amid New North Adams COVID Outbreak

A sign with directions for various departments of a hospital stands at a crossroads
Josh Landes
/
WAMC
The main sign at the Berkshire Health Systems operated Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

WAMC has learned that around 800 employees of Berkshire County’s largest healthcare provider remain unvaccinated against COVID-19. 

In an all-staff memo sent Friday, Berkshire Health Systems Chief Medical Officer Dr. James Lederer urged the over 20% of the company’s 3,600 employees who remain unvaccinated to get the jab. 

“This was at last a plea to just say, please, this is still your opportunity to get vaccinated, mitigate your risks, mitigate the risks to your children and loved ones, and the colleagues you work with,” he told WAMC Friday.

Lederer says Berkshire Health Systems does not have a vaccine mandate in place yet, pending full FDA approval of the drugs.

The email confirmed a new COVID outbreak affecting more than 20 patients and staffers at the North Adams Commons nursing home.

You can read the full leaked memo here:
 

From: Lederer James <jlederer@bhs1.org>

Date: July 30, 2021 at 12:23:19 PM EDT
To: AllBFS <AllBFS@bhs1.org>, AllBMC <AllBMC@bhs1.org>, AllFVH <AllFVH@bhs1.org>, AllBMS <AllBMS@bhs1.org>
Subject: COVID Delta variant

To all staff:

Within the past 48 hours we have seen a significant increase in positive COVID test results in the county. As well, we now have a documented outbreak in North Adams with 20 patients (all vaccinated)  and staff positive at North Adams Commons SNF. 4 of those patients are now admitted here and 2 additional patients from the county are also admitted here totaling 6 current inpatients.

We know that the Delta variant is very active across the state. Provincetown is in the midst of a community-wide outbreak with 882 cases identified so far. Many of those patients who reside in Massachusetts were previously fully vaccinated. We can expect that the Delta variant is the predominant strain now in Berkshire County. The CDC’s data does support that vaccination decreases the likelihood of severe illness/death and hospitalization with the Delta strain even if not fully protective against contracting the infection.

800 staff of BHS are unvaccinated. I strongly urge those who are unvaccinated to attend one of the 3 BHS vaccine clinics and start your vaccine series. While the current surge seems contained to north county, it would be expected to affect the rest of the county over the next 2-3 weeks. Even one dose of vaccine can be helpful in the event we see a greater surge across Berkshire County. Please protect yourself, your children and loved ones  and your colleagues by getting vaccinated.

Consider masking while at indoor locations especially if in crowded conditions. Continue good hand hygiene.  Continue social distancing when possible.

James W. Lederer Jr. MD

Chief Medical Officer, Chief Quality Officer

Berkshire Health System

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