BOSTON (AP) – Families of veterans who died in one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks at a U.S. nursing home on Wednesday called for changes to the way Massachusetts oversees its veterans homes fighters.
Members of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Coalition told a virtual hearing held by state lawmakers that the two state-run facilities of Massachusetts – the Soldiers’ House in Holyoke and the Soldiers’ House in Chelsea – should be supervised by the state public health department. , not the state Department of Veteran Services.
The group said the hostels’ board should also include appointments from the veteran community. And they want medical experts to be in charge of day-to-day operations.
Members of the group, which include former leaders of the Holyoke household and family members of veterans who died in last year’s outbreak, said the proposed legislation in response to the outbreak of the last year was insufficient.
“We’re all here because of a tragedy that happened because too many people were sleeping behind the wheel,” the group wrote in testimony submitted to the Legislature’s Joint Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee. “It does not please our coalition to say this and it hurts us a lot, but this legislation is not the answer to build our confidence.”
Nearly 80 residents have died and many more residents and staff fell ill in the spring of 2020 at the Holyoke Home.
Former senior household officials face abuse, neglect and other criminal charges, and an independent state-commissioned report concluded that administrators had made “utterly baffling” decisions that allowed the virus to grow. spread unchecked.
Homeworkers in Holyoke also filed a class action lawsuit alleging they were forced to care for sick and dying veterans under “inhumane conditions.”