Austen Riggs Center COVID-19 Response

Austen Riggs Center COVID dashboard.

Updates From the Medical Director/CEO

Updated 04/27/21  

Dear Members of the Austen Riggs Community:  

I am pleased to provide you with news that continues favorable trends over the past few months. 

Since my last message on March 1, our COVID-19 testing program has returned no positive results for Riggs patients or staff. As of the most recent screening, we had conducted over 5,500 tests with an overall positive test rate of approximately 0.09%. Since Riggs began testing last November, we have had only two positive test results among patients and three among staff. Three of the five appear to have been false positives and all five were subsequently given medical clearance to resume their normal activities. Additionally, more than 90% of our patients and staff have received full courses of vaccine since the state authorized Riggs patients and staff to receive injections in February. 

These continuing positive trends are allowing us to take several important steps. For newly admitted patients who are fully vaccinated, have no symptoms and have had no risk of exposure to COVID-19, there is no longer a requirement to enter quarantine and they will be tested monthly as part of our group testing program. New patients who are not vaccinated, are without symptoms, and who do not have a history of exposure to COVID-19 will be tested on the day of admission and will enter quarantine until they receive a negative test result, which typically returns within 1 - 2 days. This replaces our earlier policy that required two negative test results. These patients will continue to be tested weekly. 

Along with these changes to the admissions criteria, we have also reduced some restrictions on clinical visitors to the Medical Office Building and offices in other Riggs buildings. While remaining in compliance with state and federal guidelines, Riggs patient family members may now attend family meetings in-person. Likewise, private patients may also come to campus. The meetings will be hosted by medical staff members and will require completion of our screening form and use of masks.  

These steps, along with previously announced changes to Massachusetts travel orders, reflect slow, but steady progress in our strategy to keep Riggs “as open as possible, but as restrictive as necessary.” Visitors with any symptoms or recent exposure to COVID-19 will not be allowed to come to Riggs and we are also requiring standard preventive measures, including use of masks in public areas on or off campus, indoors or out, along with maintaining a minimum 6 feet of distance from others and frequent hand washing. 

We are working with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health to explore what other changes we may implement at this time. As more people receive the vaccine, we expect there will be additional changes to national and state guidance, which we are constantly monitoring. As the evolving guidance permits, we hope to make further adjustment to our protocols, and I will provide an update when we do. 

With best wishes,

Eric M. Plakun, MD   
Medical Director/CEO   

Contact Information: 

Family members: Your social worker is your primary contact person. If that person is not available, please call the social work administrative assistant, Jessi Meagher, at 413.931.5202. 

Referring clinicians: Please call 1.800.517.4447.  

Media inquiries: Please call our Communications Office at 413.931.5245.  


 COVID-19 Alerts From the Austen Riggs Center.

 Austen Riggs Center Admissions with Quarantine and COVID-19 Testing

There are numerous mental health resources related to COVID-19. Here are some that you may find helpful.   The organizations and outlets listed are among those providing accurate and updated information about COVID-19.


Archived Updates

2021.01.29 COVID-19 Update
2021.01.21 COVID-19 Update
2021.01.20 COVID-19 Update
2020.12.21 COVID-19 Update
2020.12.14 COVID-19 Update
2020.12.08 COVID-19 Update
2020.11.17 COVID-19 Update
2020.10.27 COVID-19 Update
2020.09.28 COVID-19 Update
2020.08.04 COVID-19 Update
COVID-19 Update from the Medical Director/CEO of Austen Riggs - June 2020
2020.05.13 COVID-19 Update
COVID-19 Update from the Medical Director/CEO of Austen Riggs - April 2020
Pandemics 101: A Presentation by Dr. Nils Daulaire
2020.04.24 COVID-19 Update
2020.04.17 COVID-19 Update
2020.04.01 COVID-19 Update
2020.03.24 COVID-19 Update
2020.03.20 COVID-19 Update
2020.03.17 COVID-19 Update
2021.03.01 COVID-19 Update

Austen Riggs Center Emails and Text Messages (SMS) Subscription Service for COVID-19 Updates

The Austen Riggs Center (Riggs) is offering this email and text subscription service solely for the purpose of sharing Riggs COVID-19 related alerts. Please enter the information below and select your communications preferences. Learn more about this service here: www.austenriggs.org/COVID19-updates.