HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke’s mission aims to provide “Care with Honor and Dignity” in the best possible health care environment for eligible Massachusetts veterans since 1952. Recently, the facility has faced numerous deaths related to COVID-19 that affected both the staff as well as residents.
Take a look at a timeline that showcases all COVID-19 cases that took place at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke starting from March 23, 2020, to April 3, 2020.
MARCH 23, 2020:
The Massachusetts Department of Veteran’s Services announced the first case of a resident at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke that tested positive for COVID-19. The department’s spokesman Anthony Preston said in a statement “The resident has been quarantined to a private room. The proper local and state public health officials were notified and took appropriate public health measures.“
MARCH 29, 2020:
Anthony Preston announced several residents along with staff have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke. Following CDC guidelines, residents have been isolated and employees were advised to quarantine until they are asymptomatic. Precautionary measures were taken in hopes to prevent future cases within the facility.
MARCH 30, 2020:
The Department of Veteran Services announced 11 veteran residents at the Soldiers’ Home died. Of those who died, 5 tested positive for COVID-19, 5 results were pending, and 1 death was unknown. At the time, 5 staff members tested positive and 25 veterans residents were still awaiting test results. The superintendent of the facility Bennett Walsh was put on paid administrative leave. Governor Charlie Baker and Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse released a statement regarding the deaths. Click the names of both the governor and mayor to view the full statements.
MARCH 31, 2020:
Soldiers’ Home announced 13 veteran residents died. Of those who passed away, 6 tested positive for COVID-19, 1 tested negative, 5 were still pending results and 1 death was considered unknown. All staff members and residents were required to get tested at this point. The results of 25 additional veteran residents were pending while 7 staff members at the time tested positive for the virus.
APRIL 1, 2020:
The state announced two more veterans died at the Soldiers’ Home bringing the total of veteran residents death to 15. Of those who died, 6 tested positive for COVID-19, 6 tests were pending results, 2 tests came back negative, and 1 death was unknown. The Baker administrative stepped in and appointed attorney Mark Pearlstein to lead an investigation.
APRIL 3, 2020:
At the State House, Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders announced 21 veteran residents at Soldiers’ Home have died. 15 of those residents tested positive for COVID-19, two tested negative, and one death still remains unknown. Three tests are still pending. A total of 59 residents at the Soldiers’ Home have tested positive for the virus. Those who have tested positive are being kept in isolation. COVID-19 testing is now complete on all veterans who live in the facility.
APRIL 5, 2020:
Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke reported two more veteran deaths, bringing the total number of deaths to 23. Of those who passed away, 16 tested positive for COVID-19, 2 negative, 1 remains unknown, while 3 tests are still pending results. Additional precautionary measures being implemented such as more nursing staff members, support from the National Guard, and an increase in both disinfection protocols and hygiene measures.
As of Friday, 40 Soldiers’ Home residents who tested negative for COVID-19 were moved to Holyoke Medical Center. This decision was made after a coronavirus outbreak at the Soldiers’ Home continued to grow. The hospital’s Birthing Center and outpatient Cardiovascular Center has been converted to house the residents.
New Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Administrator Val Liptak has been working with several agencies to focus on implementing immediate controls, staffing, and protocols to protect the health and safety of residents and staff.
State House Reporter Jodi Reed said several state lawmakers told 22News, they are skeptical about administrators there so they want to conduct their own investigation.