The Holyoke Veterans Home was devastated by the Corona Virus, with 68 deaths attributed to the virus, reportedly, the highest death toll at an assisted living facility in the US.
The State of Massachusetts reported a total of 80 residents died, with 68 testing positive for the Virus and 11 testing negative. The cause of death for the additional person is not known.
In addition to the 68 residents that died, 82 additional residents tested positive for the virus, along with 81 staff members.
The superintendent of the facility, Bennett Walsh, was placed on paid administrative leave, after he said his requests for help were ignored.
Walsh released a statement on April 9 detailing daily reports that were made to officials including his request for help from the National Guard, which was denied.
“It is gut-wrenching to observe the devastation the virus has caused my fellow veterans. These are men I helped to care for with affection and respect. I again express my sincere sympathy to their families,” Walsh said, according to Western Mass News.
One nurse at the facility said, “We didn’t know who was positive and who was negative and then they (Holyoke’s administration) [put] people together and that really exacerbated it even more.” The home has faced staffing shortages for years.
These types of facilities are especially vulnerable to outbreaks like this due to the age of the residents and underlying health conditions. The loss is heartbreaking for the families.
“It’s horrific,” said Edward Lapointe, whose father-in-law lives at the home and had a mild case of the virus. “These guys never had a chance.”
A federal investigation into the situation at the Soldiers Home in Holyoke was opened on April 10 “to examine whether the Soldiers’ Home violated the rights of residents by failing to provide them adequate medical care generally, and during the coronavirus pandemic.”
The investigation is ongoing.