Holyoke Soldiers’ Home suspends visitation after veteran tests positive for COVID-19 again

HOLYOKE, Mass. — Holyoke Soldiers’ Home has suspended all visitors after a veteran resident tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.

The Executive Office of Health and Human Services said in a statement Tuesday morning that a veteran resident at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke who was clinically recovered from COVID-19 experienced COVID-like symptoms again. Proactively, the veteran was transferred to a hospital for treatment and tested positive.

“The Home has been implementing protocols for clinically recovered individuals, who may test positive even after they are clinically recovered,” the EOHHS spokesperson said.

“The Home is immediately taking necessary precautions and is performing full-house testing with support from the Massachusetts National Guard, and temporarily suspending all visitation.”

The veteran who tested positive lived in a unit dedicated for clinically recovered individuals. All residents in that unit are being quarantined and communal spaces are closed at the home.

Regular coronavirus testing happens every two weeks at the home. This week, full-house onsite testing for residents and staff is being conducted with help from the Massachusetts National Guard.

Outside of regular facility testing, residents are closely monitored. Visits can resume once the latest round of test results come back.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, 76 veterans at the Soldier’s Home have died.

A report released in June was compiled by a team of independent investigators hired by Gov. Charlie Baker’s office. The report revealed that a COVID-19 outbreak at Soldiers’ Home may have been unavoidable at the facility, but that errors made by a small leadership team ultimately led to a “horrific toll” of veteran deaths.

The report said that the first major error at the Soldiers’ Home involved combining two dementia units because of low staffing on March 27.

The second error, according to the report, came when staff failed to “promptly isolate patients suspected of COVID-19 using the rooms set aside for isolation.”

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


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