67 Veterans Dead In One Nursing Home

Cleaners unwrapped their protective gear as they left the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke last month. SCREENSHOT: BOSTON GLOBE

“How this was allowed to happen, and when state officials were made aware, remains unclear.”

Apr 28, 2020

The Boston Globe – In late March, when the first resident of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts died from the coronavirus, 226 residents lived at the elder care facility.

Just over a month later, nearly 30 percent of them have died in one of the nation’s deadliest outbreaks, and another 83 have tested positive.

With 67 deaths linked to the coronavirus, the facility has a greater reported death toll than any other nursing home in New England, New York or New Jersey, or the long-term care facility in Kirkland, Wash., the initial epicenter of the US outbreak, according to a Globe review of cases.

Almost every day brings a new death.

As several investigations into the state-run facility’s handling of the crisis move forward, employees and their union representatives say the situation has stabilized, in large part because the facility is now half-empty. Forty-three residents have been hospitalized, and 10 others have died from other causes.

As of Monday, just 106 residents remained, according to Brooke Karanovich, a spokeswoman for Health and Human Services.

“We’ve mostly contained the crisis, but we have such a small number so that’s almost expected,” said Joan Miller, who has worked as a nurse at the facility for five years.

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When the outbreak began, her husband moved out of their Springfield home as she continued to work at the facility.

They haven’t been able to hug in over a month for fear of transmission.

She tested negative in early April, but has not been re-tested since. In all, 81 caregivers have tested positive, said Karanovich.

Nursing homes across the country have been devastated by the contagion, but the Holyoke facility was particularly vulnerable. Before the outbreak, roughly one-third of residents were 90 or older and needed substantial round-the-clock care … Read more. 

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