Lawmakers, families continue to push for changes at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home as death toll nears 100

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – State officials and local residents are demanding new changes be made at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.

Congressman Neal, family members, and veterans have been advocating the state to fund a construction project to improve the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration has agreed to make both short term and long-term changes to the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home as well as the one in Chelsea.

On Monday, the Office of Health and Human Services reported another veteran resident death at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, bringing the death toll at the facility to 98 since March 1. The veteran whose death was reported on Monday did not have Covid-19, the state said.

Out of the 98 veterans who’ve passed away, 76 tested positive for Covid-19, 18 tested negative, one veteran’s status is unknown, and two had clinically recovered.

According to the state, the remaining veterans who had Covid-19 have clinically inside the facility and at Holyoke Medical Center have clinically recovered, and all staff members who were infected have also clinically recovered. Here is a breakdown of the current status of all residents reported by the state:

  • 0 veterans are positive across the Home and those at Holyoke Medical Center 
  • 63 veterans are negative
  • 84 veterans have recovered, meaning they previously tested positive and are now clinically recovered
  • 1 veteran has refused testing

Resident locations:

  • 120 veterans are onsite
  • 28 veterans are offsite
  • 26 veterans are at a dedicated skilled nursing unit at Holyoke Medical Center
  • 2 veterans are receiving acute care offsite

Renovation work on the third floor is already underway and will be complete this fall so that veterans being cared for at the Holyoke Medical Center can safely return. Also, starting next month, the state will begin its rapid planning phase to determine the long-term upgrades needed for the facility.

The Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Coalition is pleased to see the state committing funding to the home’s future. 22News spoke with one Chicopee Veteran, John Hurley, who shared his thoughts about the Soldiers’ Home.

“It was frustrating seeing that we’ve been petitioning for EIGHT years. We need them to react much sooner than this. So we’d appreciate it if they can get moving on this and do it as soon as possible for the need of our veterans,” said Hurley.

Hurley and other members of the coalition are asking the state to build a five-story addition with a private room for veterans. They also want them to incorporate an adult day health care program, so veterans can live at home but still participate at the Soldiers’ Home.

The state will begin the design phase for the future project at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home late this fall, but there is still no timeline as to when construction will begin.

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