Two more veterans pass away at Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, bringing total to 82 deaths

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Two more veterans have passed away at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke Wednesday bringing the total to 82 deaths; 70 of whom have tested positive for COVID-19.

According to Health and Human Services spokesperson Brooke Karanovich, 80 veteran residents have tested positive for the virus, and 55 have tested negative. Of the deaths reported, 70 had COVID-19, 11 tested negative and one was unknown. The following is the updated statistics from the office of Health and Human Services:

  • 80 veteran residents have tested positive
  • 55 veteran residents have tested negative
  • 9 veteran residents have pending tests
  • Of all residents:
    • 105 residents are onsite
    • 39 residents are offsite
  • 31 residents are at a dedicated skilled nursing unit at Holyoke Medical Center
  • 8 residents are receiving acute care offsite
  • 82 veteran resident deaths (70 positive, 11 negative, 1 unknown)
    • Wednesday’s update includes 2 deaths: both positive, DNR, DNH
  • 81 employees have tested positive

In late March, the superintendent of the Soldiers’ Home was put on paid administrative leave after information about the death of 11 veterans and the Covid-19 outbreak at the facility was released.

The state has since deployed the National Guard to assist at the facility and both the state and federal authorities have launched separate investigations into the deaths and virus outbreak at the Soldiers’ Home.

Additional nursing staff and a clinical command team have been brought in to provide support as well as personal protective equipment coaches to provide additional coaching to staff to ensure proper use.

During the board of trustees March 12 meeting with Superintendent Bennett Walsh, he said the facility was taking similar precautions \they do for the flu for COVID-19 and had been discussing them with the city.

Mayor Alex Morse confirmed they had those discussions but said the Soldiers’ Home failed to do enough to protect its residents.

“Our Board of Health had conversations with a lot of long term care facilities including folks at the Solders’ Home. Unfortunately though it doesn’t look like those precautions were actually implemented,” Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse told 22News.

Governor Baker said he did not know about the outbreak until March 29 when several veterans had already died. Walsh was adamant saying he contacted state officials for help and even requested help from the National Guard.

There were 226 veterans living at the Soldiers’ Home when the COVID-19 outbreak started and less than half of them are still residing at the home.

Governor Baker advised that flags be lowered to half-staff until the end of the public health emergency at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea, the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Agawam and Winchendon due to the fact Military Honors are unavailable during this public health crisis.

Family communication continues from Holyoke Soldiers’ Home staff through video chat. Families can call the family hotline at 413-552-4764 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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