Families of veterans in Holyoke Soldiers’ Home point blame at Gov. Baker, VA

HOLYOKE, Mass. — Families of veterans in the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home are not surprised by details of the report that Gov. Charlie Baker ordered that was released Wednesday. And they agree with his reaction that it was horrific and tragic but they are also pointing the finger of blame at Baker.

Susan Regensburger said the buck stops with the governor. “He is culpable. He ultimately hired Bennett Walsh,” she said.

Walsh, the Soldiers’ Home superintendent, was placed on paid leave after COVID-19 concerns came to light.

Susan Kenney, whose father lost his life to COVID-19 at the home, says there’s plenty of blame to go around. “The administration, some of the staff, the state, the VA,” she said.

Her 78-year-old father, Charles Lowell, died on April 15 after contracting the virus.

She believes if the Soldiers’ Home was better prepared to deal with COVID-19 her father would be alive today.

“Absolutely. absolutely. I have no reason to think that he wouldn’t have been. He wasn’t in top health, but he had been through difficult circumstances before and recovered,” Kenney said.

Regensburger joined hundreds yesterday calling for a new facility.

MORE: 25 Investigates: Internal emails show lack of preparation for outbreak at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home

“I want Gov. Baker to get the state to release some funds and get a new soldiers home,” she said.

She knows her 100-year-old father is lucky but says strict confinement due to COVID-19 is now impacting his health.

“They’ve just been isolated for so long without conversation with anyone,” said Regensburger.

She hopes now that changes will be made to assure her father’s health and good care going forward.

“I don’t know, that’s an unknown. That is a big unknown,” she said.

MORE: Families, veterans & former admin. at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home form coalition, hold ‘stand out’

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