Update from the Medical Director/CEO
Dear Members of the Austen Riggs Community:
Last week I provided updated information on our COVID-19 status. I am pleased to do so again, as recent guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has enabled us to take additional steps that bring us closer to our pre-pandemic way of life.
We carefully reviewed the new recommendations in the context of our own experience with testing, vaccination, and management of positive cases and as a result of this review, we have instituted the following changes, effective immediately:
- Indoor mask use by patients and staff is now optional except for those with weakened immune systems, symptoms consistent with COVID, or known exposures. This also includes children and teachers at the nursery school.
- We will end weekly surveillance testing, which we conducted for nearly two years, during which we collected more than 15,000 samples.
We will, however, maintain the following safety practices:
- Staff will continue reporting their COVID status via the daily online symptom screening app.
- Antigen and Cue testing will be available on site for symptomatic individuals, individuals with known exposures, and new patients.
- All visitors must be vaccinated.
- No visitors with any symptoms or recent exposure to COVID-19 will be allowed on campus.
- Visitors must complete a COVID screening form provided by their Riggs’ host.
- All visitors, including family members and staff visitors, must wear masks indoors. They may remove masks alone in the host’s room or outdoors, but visitors must wear masks in common areas. This means they cannot share meals in common areas.
Should we experience COVID cases associated with community transmission within Riggs, mask use and surveillance testing may resume.
These significant changes are quite a relief. I am encouraging members of the Riggs community to enjoy them, while at the same time remain vigilant about any potential threats that the virus might pose as we enter the autumn and winter seasons.
With best wishes,
Eric M. Plakun, MD