Death toll climbs to 66 as three more veterans die at soldiers’ home


HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The number of veteran resident deaths at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke has increased to 66, according to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services on Wednesday.

COVID-19 Cases at Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke

  • 66 veteran resident deaths (55 positive, 9 negative, 1 pending, 1 unknown)
    • Wednesday’s update includes 3 deaths, 3 positive
    • 93 veteran residents have tested
  • 60 veteran residents have tested negative
  • 7 veteran residents have pending tests
  • 81 employees have tested positive

The report indicates that since Tuesday, three more veterans had died, bringing the total to 66 from 63.

A Clinical Command team continues to respond to the outbreak at the home along with additional management staff for nursing, facilities, operations and administration to assist the existing staff.

Governor Charlie Baker has advised flags be lowered at half-staff until the end of the public health emergency at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke and Chelsea, and the veterans Memorial Cemetery in Agawam.

COVID-19 Cases at Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea

At the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, 16 veteran resident deaths have been reported including 12 who tested positive for COVID-19 and four who tested negative.

  • 31 veteran residents who have tested positive
  • 205 veteran residents who have tested negative
  • 52 staff tested positive

The 22News I-Team continues to dig for answers surrounding the rising death toll at the Soldiers’ Home. After reaching out the Office of Human and Health Services, a request for records was denied.

Two months into the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 70 percent of the veterans living in the facility have tested positive for the virus and 66 veterans have died.

Beth LaPointe of Ludlow considers her family one of the lucky ones. Her father lives at the Soldiers’ Home, he tested positive for Covid-19 on April 3. She told 22News her father is still doing well despite his positive diagnosis.

On March 30, the Superintendent of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Bennett Walsh, was put on paid administrative leave after news about 11 veteran deaths first broke.

22News submitted records requests, asking for electronic correspondence and reports, between the Holyoke Soldiers Home, Superintendent Walsh and the Department of Veteran’s Services. The requests were denied due to pending investigations, saying disclosure of such records would compromise investigative efforts.

In fact, both state and federal authorities have launched three separate investigations into what went wrong, and whether there was a cover up. Walsh maintains he reported the deaths properly.

The Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Board of Trustees is lawyering up. They voted unanimously to hire Attorney John Gagley to represent the board.

As for LaPointe, she’s still trying to get her father out of the Soldiers’ Home and home with her.

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