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Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke to resume outdoor visitation

FILE - This May 2018 file photo ,shows an aerial view of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Mass. Nearly 90 residents have died from the coronavirus at the central Massachusetts home for aging veterans, as state and federal officials try to figure out what went wrong in the deadliest outbreak at a long-term care facility in the U.S. (Patrick Johnson/The Republican via AP, File)

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke is preparing to resume its outdoor visitation June 15 with restricted guidelines.

According to a news release sent to 22News, the facility has tested residents and staff for COVID-19 in preparation for visitation. Test results are expected to be reported this week. During recent testing of all residents on June 2, 74 veterans tested positive and 57 tested negative.

The home has focused on infection control procedures and maintaining safety protocols in efforts to support the health of veterans and staff. All residents will continue to be monitored and retesting is being conducted on and offsite. Staff members have also been tested as the facility prepares to resume back to its regular operation and move into the recovery phase.

During the pandemic, iPads have been used for veterans to communicate with family members while no visitation restrictions were in effect. Families who are unable to visit the facility when outdoor visitation resumes are still able to contact their loved ones through video chat.

At this time, Governor Baker has advised flags be lowered to half-staff until the end of the public health emergency at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke and in Chelsea as well as the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Agawam and Winchedon.

To date, there are 101 residents onsite and 30 residents offsite. 28 residents are in a dedicated unit at Holyoke Medical Center and two are receiving severe care offsite. A total of 93 residents have died since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. Of the total number deaths, 76 tested positive for the coronavirus, 16 tested negative, and one death still remains unknown.