Mass. AG investigating Holyoke Soldiers’ Home stricken by virus

HOLYOKE, Mass. — The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office is investigating the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home where more than two dozen residents have died and employees say they’re being told to return to work no matter what.

“Our office is launching an investigation into Holyoke Soldiers’ Home to find out went wrong at this facility and determine if legal action is warranted. My heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones under these tragic circumstances,” Attorney General Maura Healey said Tuesday.

The investigation is independent of the one being conducted by attorney Mark Pearlstein. Pearlstein was hired by the governor’s office to investigate what lead to the deaths and the station’s management.

Staff members of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home provided 25 Investigates with a copy of a memo telling those staff members to return work if they’re well enough, even if they test positive for the coronavirus.

Boston 25 News also heard from two staff members of the home who believe the deaths of these local veterans could have been prevented.

“I think we are all appalled by what happened at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home and especially, the lack of follow through on standard protocol in respect to reporting," said Governor Charlie Baker.

More than two dozen residents of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home have died since March. A source told Boston 25 News that, as of Monday, 46 staffers tested positive for COVID-19.

Robin McDonald lost her uncle to to the COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. McDonald says that, while she welcomes yet another investigation being launched and wants someone to get to the bottom of this, the fact is, she says her loved one died alone.

“They called us to tell us that he passed away, they had given him morphine and they never asked us if he wanted any other treatment,” said McDonald.

McDonald’s uncle, 78-year-old Harry McDonald, was one of the two dozen residents who died at the home. He served in the Navy and fought in the Vietnam War.

Along with so many other soldiers, McDonald says her uncle died alone and the family go little to no information on what was going on.

“I want all the families involved to get all the information they can,” said McDonald. “We really want this investigation to find out what happened. Why weren’t proper procedures followed. Why wasn’t the families notified how serious this was.”

Now, the facility is under the command of a new staff and the National Guard is also on hand to help out.

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