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We are safely resuming in-person appointments. Learn about safety measures, testing, and COVID-19.

Baystate Medical Center COVID-19 Cluster: Q&A

COVID-19 Cluster Information

Your safety is of the utmost importance to us. Baystate Medical Center (BMC) identified COVID-positive patients and employees on a non-COVID clinical unit, and took immediate steps to respond.

We are deeply disappointed that this outbreak occurred, and reaffirm our collective commitment to remaining vigilant in order to contain the spread of this virus by: frequent hand hygiene, physical/social distancing, proper wearing of facemasks, and staying home if symptomatic.

We look at this occurrence as a sobering reminder that this virus is highly contagious and that we must all remain vigilant.

Please read the following Q&A for more information.

Questions & Answers

I heard there was an outbreak of COVID at Baystate – what happened?

Baystate Medical Center (BMC) identified COVID-positive patients and employees on a Non-COVID clinical unit, with potential exposure during July 15 – July 23. All patients and visitors who had potential exposure have been contacted.

I was a patient/visitor at Baystate Medical Center during that same time frame of July 15 – July 23.

If you were a patient at Baystate Medical Center and have not been contacted by our staff, you were not determined to have been at risk of exposure.

When did this outbreak happen?

This outbreak happened on one clinical unit at Baystate Medical Center between July 15 – July 23.

 

How did this transmission happen?

Based on a review by our hospital epidemiologists, we believe the group of cases on the unit resulted from several factors: travel to an area within the United States identified as a “hot spot” and staff who convened in a breakroom and removed their masks without observing proper social distancing protocols.

These simple lapses were able to happen in spite of our screening employees for fever and other symptoms before every shift, mandating mask usage and social distancing throughout the facility.

What are you doing to contain the outbreak?

We have reached out to all patients who received care on the unit during the time period from July 15 to July 23 to be tested. We have conducted extensive contact tracing and testing of employees who were working on the unit as well as those who spent more than 15 minutes on the unit during this time period.

We have reinforced our policies and requirement for proper masking, except while eating – across the organization. Employees are also required to practice social distancing while masks are off while eating. Additionally, we are addressing and reconfiguring break areas for our employees to take breaks and have their meals, when mask removal is necessary.

What policies do you have in place to prevent this from happening again?

We have instituted two new policies that our employees must comply with. While we had mandatory mask requirements at Baystate Health, we have now developed a policy focusing on proper wearing of face masks and social distancing requirements. Additionally, we introduced a new policy in alignment with Massachusetts travel restrictions.

We are committed to: frequent hand hygiene, physical/social distancing, proper wearing of facemasks, and staying home if symptomatic.

We recognize that this virus is highly contagious and that we must all remain vigilant.

 

Is it safe for me to come in and have my surgery/procedure (or other pre-scheduled surgery/procedure)?

Yes. This incident occurred from July 15 – 23; we have reached out to the individuals who were exposed during this time and have provided testing for them. COVID safety precautions remain in place. Additionally, we are requiring pre-procedure COVID testing for all patients who are coming in for surgery or procedures.

I was at the hospital, does that mean I need to get tested for COVID?

If you have not received a call from Baystate Health, you are not one of the people who need to get tested.

If I have an appointment scheduled at BMC, can I move it to a community hospital if the service is offered there?

Please call your provider to discuss the most appropriate place for care.

Where can I get tested?

Baystate Health offers testing for western Massachusetts residents with a referral from a provider or urgent care.

For a listing of alternate sites offering asymptomatic (no COVID-19 symptoms) testing in western Massachusetts, please visit BaystateHealth.org/Testing.

If you are interested in testing sites for the statewide Stop the Spread initiative, please visit Mass.Gov for more information.

 

What should I do if I have more questions?

If you have questions, we can be reached via email.