I-Team: No new deaths at Soldiers’ Home Tuesday, confirmed COVID-19 cases rise

I-Team

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – No new deaths were reported at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home on Tuesday, with the total still standing at 25.

According to the Office of Health and Human Services the numbers below reflect the current COVID-19 cases and deaths at the Soldiers Home:

  • 25 veteran resident deaths (18 positive tests, 3 pending, 3 negative, 1 unknown)
  • 65 veteran residents have tested positive
  • 94 veteran residents have tested negative
  • 67 staff tested positive, 210 staff tested negative 

Mayor Alex Morse told 22News that he had a conversation with the state’s investigator at the Soldiers’ Home. He doesn’t believe proper procedures were followed when the first veteran was infected.

“Its been a really painful week for the city, the soldiers’ home and the entire state,” the mayor said.

It’s been more than a week since the 22News I-Team first learned that the coronavirus had killed veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. The state took control of operations and opened an investigation into the events that led to the spread of the virus.

Mayor Alex Morse told the I-Team he spoke with the state’s investigator and was told the facility didn’t properly quarantine the initial patient with the virus.

“There is a lot of focus on an initial patient that tested positive for coronavirus in the dementia unit,” Morse told 22News. “It seems like there is a lot of consensus that that patient wasn’t properly isolated or quarantined which led to the exposure of fellow residents and employees.”

Mayor Morse said he told the state last Friday, that many family members were not getting any updates using the new family hotline. But since then communication has improved.

The state has completely revamped the communications team at the soldiers home. They said they’ve contacted the health care proxy of every veteran here. Family members told 22News there has been an improvement in communication.

“They are only giving information to people listed on the health care proxy. I spoke with my father’s case manager who is confident that things are improving with the change of staff that is in there.” Susan Kenney, daughter of a veteran at the Soldiers’ Home.

Kenney said her dad Charles Lowell tested positive for the coronavirus, and to her knowledge, he’s still being quarantined at the soldiers’ home. Lowell is a Vietnam veteran and served in the Air Force.

Mayor Morse said he wants an answer on why the Soldiers’ Home never contacted him or the state when the initial veteran tested positive for COVID-19.

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