11 veterans dead, several residents, staff exposed to COVID-19 at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home

| March 31, 2020

One of our regular contributors sends us this:

The superintendent of Holyoke Soldier’s Home has been placed on paid administrative leave effective immediately, according to the Office of Health and Human Services on Monday following the announcement of 11 veteran resident deaths, some of whom tested positive for COVID-19.

Department of Veterans Services spokesman Anthony Preston told 22News as of Monday, the Soldiers’ Home located at 110 Cherry Street in Holyoke had confirmed the following:

  • 11 veteran resident deaths (5 tested positive for COVID-19, 5 pending test results, and 1 is unknown)
  • 11  veteran residents have tested positive for COVID-19
  • 25 veteran residents pending test results
  • 5 staff tested positive
  • Medical information regarding individual staff and veteran residents is deemed private and cannot be shared

Val Liptak, RN, CEO of Western Massachusetts Hospitals, will replace Walsh and assume responsibility for the administration of the Soldiers’ Home at this time. Preston said in accordance with CDC guidelines, the residents who tested positive or awaiting results have been isolated and staff members who had contact with them have been advised to quarantine until they are asymptomatic.

Governor Charlie Baker in a tweet on Monday said he was heartbroken by the news and that the loss of the residents to the virus is a “shuddering loss for us all.”

Charlie Baker
?@MassGovernor

He added that public health experts are at the Soldiers’ Home conducting a thorough review of the health status of staff and residents to plan appropriate next steps.

Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Dan Tsai in a statement to 22News said it’s imperative the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home provides a safe environment for the veteran residents and the dedicated staff who serve them.

We have also implemented an onsite clinical command team comprised of medical, epidemiological, and operational experts responsible for the comprehensive and rapid response to the outbreak of COVID-19.  

All of these enhancements will build upon the existing protocols and work that align with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidance.  

Today’s actions underscore the state’s commitment to our veterans and frontline health care employees during this unprecedented public health crisis. 

 DAN TSAI, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES DEPUTY SECRETARY

On March 23, the state Department of Veteran’s Services confirmed a resident at the Soldiers’ Home tested positive for COVID-19. You can read more here. Mayor Alex Morse also released a statement expressing how devastating and grief-stricken it is to hear about the outbreak at the Soldier’s Home.

“It has been devastating to hear about the full extent of the COVID-19 outbreak at the Soldiers’ Home,” said Mayor Morse. “While I am grateful that the State is now taking swift action to ensure residents and staff get necessary care and treatment, I am grief-stricken for those we have already lost, and my heart goes out to their families and friends. The devastating impact of this virus on an individual is made worse by the limitations on their loved ones to mourn and grieve in traditional ways for those who have passed. To the families who have lost a loved one, know that all of Holyoke shares your grief. I’ve requested that flags in the City be lowered to half-mast tomorrow morning in their honor, for their service to our country, and to our community.”

Ya, now comes the thorough review and flags at half-mast over something that had been predicted and preventable for weeks.  Political talking heads blah, blah, blah…  nothing like some faux outrage with your morning coffee.

Source: 11 veterans dead, several residents, staff exposed to COVID-19 at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home | WWLP

Category: Exploitation, Health Care debate

Comments (25)

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  1. Roh-Dog says:

    Damn completely preventable shame this.
    Government kills, by incompetence or malfeasance, but she’s bloodthirsty and agnostic when she feeds.
    My prayers to those in the weeds and justice, here or later, for the guilty.

  2. Comm Center Rat says:

    Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker appointed LtCol Bennett Walsh (USMC, Ret.) as Superintendent of the Soldiers’ Home with a $115,000 annual salary. I’m sure LtCol Walsh, who served in the Marines for 24 years and is a combat veteran of Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, is a decent man.

    But why is anyone surprised when a political appointee with no medical education or healthcare background screws the pooch?

    • A Proud Infidel®™️ says:

      When any political appointee gets something, it’s nearly always because of who they knew and blew!

      • Berliner says:

        And how many political donation$ their family gave. Thi$ i$ Maryland after all.

        They are famou$ for their “nation wide $earche$” and finding job candidate$ right under their nose$ with clo$e political tie$.

  3. OWB says:

    As has been repeatedly said by multiple posters here: This is what you get when the government is in control of your health care. Not quite what most of us want.

    It is obscene how systemic the abuses, neglect and otherwise totally unacceptable behaviors are not just tolerated but apparently encouraged among those being well paid to care for our veterans.

    Prayers up for all those who are dependent upon such facilities.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Clusterf*ck.

  5. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    I’m guessing that any investigation will find the same issues that were found at the Life Care facility in the Seattle area:

    https://q13fox.com/2020/03/23/feds-release-results-of-inspection-at-virus-hit-kirkland-nursing-home/

  6. 5th/77th FA says:

    Son. of. a. Bitch! Damn shame that anyone is dying from this Communistic Originated Virus Infesting Disease of ’19. Even worse that Warriors who stood up to the other weapons of Communists for years have been taken out needlessly by incompetent administration. I agree that the Marine LTC is probably a good guy, was highly qualified to do other things but was not a medically trained person. Henceforth, should not have been in that position.

    I believe that the only way you could even think about having quality “government run health care” is if the government people who want us to use it, have to use it themselves. Hey, now there is an idea. DaHell am I smoking this morning?

    • Roh-Dog says:

      “if the government people who want us to use [government run health care], [they] have to use it themselves”
      Whoa there bud, you wanna get reported for wrongthink?
      On a completely different topic, did you know my State’s Senator, Dick ‘I was in Vietnam’ Blumenthal retains and uses his CT gubmint provided health insurance because it’s better than the Fed provided?
      Let’s logic that… he musta been in one dem thar carve outs in ‘Bamiecare.

    • USMC Steve says:

      Why would he have had to be a doctor to supervise a soldiers home? That entails administrivia, and day to day operations, which does not require an MD license to pull off. The medical part should have been handled by medical personnel skilled in those specialties. I am assuming there was at least one doctor on staff there. If they didn’t they were wrong.

      • Comm Center Rat says:

        You don’t need to be a physician to supervise a soldiers’ home. However, if this were a civilian nursing home the chief administrator would have to be a state licensed Nursing Home Administrator. Retired LtCol Walsh is not licensed according to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services website. There may be a licensed Nursing Home Administrator on staff, but all blame and responsibility should rest with Superintendent Walsh.

        Again, Walsh is a political appointee. He’s now being well taken care of on paid administrative leave. Governor Baker (a Republican) is hugely popular in this Blue State. I’m sure he’ll capably continue to deny, deflect, and delay responsibility for these deaths. He may have to jettison Walsh, especially if one of the dead veterans comes from a wealthy family with deep political and legal connections.

        As a US Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) employee I visited the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home several times. Make no mistake, this facility is a nursing home and not some plush assisted living facility. Some veterans reside in rooms with 2 or more other veterans with just enough space for a bed, nightstand, and locker. Shower facilities are communal. Despite the spartan conditions, every time I visited (unannounced) I found the facility to be well staffed, exceptionally clean, and with many scheduled activities for the residents and visitors.

  7. Green Thumb says:

    Very sad.

    No winners here.

  8. Hondo says:

    FWIW, and because it’s not completely obvious: the Holyoke Soldier’s Home is NOT a Federal activity. It’s run by the Massachussettes state Department of Veterans Affairs, not the Federal government.

    The Federal VA screws up often enough, but they didn’t screw this one up.

    • Comm Center Rat says:

      Yes, indeed the Holyoke facility is state run with oversight by the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services. There’s also another Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea (Boston area). Both homes are inspected annually by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

      • 26Limabeans says:

        I grew up in the Boston area and the water
        tower at the Old Soldiers Home was a major
        feature of the Boston skyline, painted in
        aviation hazard colors.
        My dad used to point to it and say
        “don’t let me die there”

  9. Steve 1371 says:

    I bet Howie Carr has the inside scoop on this.

    • 26Limabeans says:

      We will find out at 3 PM on WGAN live streaming.
      His show is a daily favorite.

      • Steve 1371 says:

        Love it when he does “Is Ted in the house?” HAHaHA!
        He knows just about everything going on in the Bay State.

    • 26Limabeans says:

      Howie did indeed dedicate the first 15 minutes
      of his show to the story today.
      He gave the background info on Walsh and how
      he was part of the Massachusetts hackarama.
      Baker has hired an attorney to get to the
      bottom of it.
      Hope Howie keeps it alive.

  10. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    The Holyoke facility is currently where my Korean War Vet father in law resides. There is a fair concern that we might never see him again, no one is allowed to visit at this time and being health compromised should he contract the disease odds are not strong in his favor.

    My wife is upset with me because I’ve given her every password and document related to my life insurance policies and banking information.

    I told her I’m simply being a realist, I have no underlying health issues, but some of the dead did not have them either and they substantially younger than I am. This virus is something new to all of our systems.

    • Poetrooper says:

      A few weeks ago, realizing my own high risk level, I finally got off my procrastinating ass and drew up an updated letter of financial instructions for Miz Poe similar to what you’ve done, VOV.

      In addition to insurance, banking and investment info, I included instructions on credit card and bill-paying as I have exclusively handled all family finances since ending my business travels fifteen years ago.

      And that’s another area some folks might not think of in creating “In case of my demise” instructions: Airline miles and hotel points–they can be worth substantial money to your widow. I still have several thousand dollars worth from my days of heavy business travel and had to check with each account to find out what my wife would have to do to keep them, information now in her instruction letter.

      Home and car maintenance instructions will also be helpful to a widow if, like mine, she’s had little involvement with such routines.

      If any of you can think of anything my old fuzzy brain is overlooking, give me a heads up here.

    • Steve 1371 says:

      I used to swoop with a Marine that lived near there. I have gotten on / off that exit many times.

    • rgr1480 says:

      If you have not yet executed a living trust, I recommend you do so. Everything will be spelled out for the survivor; everything goes to the survivor (or designee) WITHOUT going through probate. Probate can take 1~5 years and the lawyers get paid out of the estate!

      Doing a living trust requires a lot of personal time to get everything squared, and the lawyer’s software will put it all in proper format. It’s the best $2,500 I ever spent … and easily worth $1,000,000 of allayed spousal-unit fears and trepedations.

  11. C2Show says:

    Western Mass….the memories. Didnt have fond memories of VA in Leeds in Northampton area. They didnt tr sketch care of much and definitely were not pro veteran in that hippy area. Holyoke isn’t far away either from that area. But people need get their act together in Western Mass.