Family reacts to investigation into the COVID-19 outbreak at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke

Coronavirus Local Impact

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – People across the state are reacting to the findings of the investigation into the COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.

22News spoke with Susan Perez, the daughter of James Miller an Army veteran who was one of the first three residents who at the home who died due to COVID-19. Perez said the staff knew her dad tested positive with the virus and told her he was doing okay but then a week and a half later she received a call from the Soldiers’ Home.

“‘Please come up to the Soldiers’ Home right away, your dad is near death.’ My sister and I dropped everything and went right up,” said Perez. When she arrived, she had to spend the final moments her dad, through an iPad.

“We saw everything, everything. You could hear the other men in my dad’s room screaming, crying, choking. My dad, coughing and choking. My brother came and he was the only family member they let in and he said it was utter chaos,” said Perez.

Betsy MacKay Kupri is a Scituate resident whose 100-year-old father John MacKay is a resident at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. 76 residents at the home died due to COVID-19 but John is one of the residents who recovered.

Betsy said her dad is healthy but has noticed a difference after spent several months alone without any visitors. She told 22News she hopes to see more accountability and increased communication from the home going forward.

“Maybe weekly phone calls with someone over there to let us know what they’re doing. What are their ways of improving? There aren’t many families left over there. We want to be re-assured of the improvements they are going to make whether it’s within the physical facility or care itself.”

Betsy read through every page of the 174 page report on the investigation into the outbreak and she describes the findings as horrific but also a chance to do better.

“There aren’t that many families left over there. It would be nice if we were reassured of the improvements they are looking to make whether in the facility or with the care itself,” said Betsy.

Construction of a new wing for 120 private rooms for veteran residents would be included in the homes reform project.

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