The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic disaster have changed the lives of all of us. Sadly, this crisis has created untold hardships for many. It has, however, brought out the best in some people who went out their of way to help others, or made an extraordinary effort to respond to some aspect of this crisis. BRPC is recognizing those efforts and thanking those participants at our public meetings and on this page as they are nominated:
BERKSHIRE HEALTH SYSTEMS
Dr. Daniel Doyle, Darlene Rodowicz, Executive Vice-President and Sean Jennings, Emergency Management
I would like to recognize Berkshire Health Systems for COVID response, with a special mention to Dr. Daniel Doyle. BHS was in touch with public health immediately on March 7 when the first case was diagnosed and has shared information freely since then. They have worked collaboratively with public health and the public health nurses to ensure an effective response in the county. They set up testing almost immediately in the tent and established the COVID hotline. This is not something other hospitals did, and it made testing far more available in Berkshire County than in other areas of the state. They also, in collaboration with County Ambulance, set up a team to do outbreak testing in nursing homes and other institutional care situations, so that we did not have to wait for the National Guard and DPH to do that in the county as was done elsewhere. In addition, they changed policies and procedures to allow the public health nurses to conduct case investigation and contact tracing in a timelier manner. They allowed access to the electronic medical records for COVID cases so that the PHN did not have to wait for calls back from the infectious disease department. In addition, as results of COVID testing come in to them as the provider, they notify the public health nurses of positive results. At the peak of the surge, when it could take 24-48 hours for a case to end up in the public health nurses’ workflow in DPH’s electronic reporting system, this gave the nurses a crucial head start on contact tracing and is one of the main reasons Berkshire County was able to flatten the curve faster and more effectively than in other areas. Special mention should be made of Dan Doyle, MD, who is also the Chair of the Dalton Board of Health. Dr. Doyle has made himself available across the county for medical advice, for Boards of Health, the Public Health Nurses, School Boards, businesses, and others. He has held a weekly call with the Berkshire County Boards of Health, where he provides information on the current situation and helps the BOH brainstorm collaborative solutions. He has also agreed to act as the Berkshire Public Health Alliance Medical Director during the COVID emergency. I would also like to recognize Darlene Rodowicz, Executive Vice- President and Sean Jennings, Emergency Management, for their initial response in the spring.
I would like to recognize and thank the nurses and all the staff at Berkshire Medical Center for their self-less and compassionate care during this pandemic. The Staff of the Intensive Care and the Critical Care Units deserve special recognition as they were the ones that stepped up to the front lines of this crises and put their own lives on the line to care for so many. The professionalism and courage displayed by these people is a source of inspiration and hope for us all.
BERKSHIRE COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH NURSES
Leslie Drager, Berkshire Public Health Alliance covering up to 22 municipalities last spring (19 now), Nancy Slattery of the Berkshire VNA who covers 7 communities, Kayla Donnelly-Winters in Pittsfield & Emilie Jarrett in Richmond & Stockbridge.
I would like to recognize the Public Health Nurses in the county, who have worked tirelessly to contact cases – often seven days a week – do contact tracing, follow-up on cases and contacts, implement policies and procedures and more. They have worked collaboratively with each other and it is largely to them that the COVID situation was so quickly and effectively brought under control in Berkshire County. They are Leslie Drager, Berkshire Public Health Alliance covering up to 22 municipalities last spring (19 now), Nancy Slattery of the Berkshire VNA who covers 7 communities, Kayla Donnelly-Winters in Pittsfield & Emilie Jarrett in Richmond & Stockbridge.
ADAMS COUNCIL ON AGING
The COVID-19 Crisis caused the elderly and others isolation, loneliness, and other hardships. I feel the Adams Council on Aging went out of their way to provide support to community members. The Adams Council on Aging coordinated seven- two volunteers and was creative in their efforts. They provided food security through the food bank, offering frozen meat and grab n go lunches and brown bag lunches. Information was included with tips for at home exercise ideas, mental wellness, care tips, hand sanitizer and local honey. They engaged school age children to create cards that were place in with the meals putting smiles on senior faces. Volunteers called and chatted with lonely seniors. The Adams Council on Aging logged 2,513 phone calls during the pandemic asking how community members were doing and asked if any other services were needed. The Adams Council on Aging also asked if community members completed the Federal census. Volunteers mail birthday cards to seniors over the age of 65. The Adams Council on Aging was able to have a tent set up outside for social distance Bingo and lunch, informational gatherings on “How to prepare for an unexpected hospitalization and how to choose a Home care provider”. The new Ladder program through referrals offers services for many grandparents who are caring or raising grandchildren. The Adams Council on Aging I feel emerged as leaders in the COVID-19 Crisis.
GOODWILL INDUSTRIES OF THE BERKSHIRES
We would like to nominate the Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires. During the height of the pandemic Goodwill, with help of funding from the COVID Emergency Fund, offered their trucks to work with 5 northern Berkshire food pantries and meal sites that are partner agencies with the FoodBank of Western Ma to pick up and directly deliver the food from the FoodBank of Western, MA which is located in Hatfield, MA. The food that is picked up and delivered is the food that is then distributed back out to the community. By having the Goodwill help with this, it enabled larger quantities of food to be picked up and distributed to meet the increase in numbers during COVID at these emergency food sites. From April until June 79,197 lbs. of food including canned goods, fresh vegetables & fruit, dairy products, drinks, frozen meat & dinners was delivered to all 5 locations. The Goodwill continued to do this through August and are currently looking for funding to continue this.
LP ADAMS, CO.
Todd Walton of LP Adams, Co., Inc. also started April 1st by offering a truck, driver and volunteers to transport food from the Western Mass Food Depot in Pittsfield to St Joseph’s church and have committed to do it through the end of the year. They have also gone to Hatfield to bring food to South Congregational Church and St Joseph’s Church when Western Mass Food Bank was unable to provide usual trucking. I would estimate the weight to be between 79,000 – 100,000 pounds during this period.