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COVID-19 Outbreak at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home: A Story of Neglect and Incompetence

Covid-19 needle tubings and corona virus at the background

Residents of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home were negligently exposed to coronavirus through the negligent actions of staff and administrators. This negligence resulted in a significant outbreak of infections within the elderly population that claimed the lives of 76 residents. This outbreak was preventable and nursing home neglect lawyers are currently pursuing claims against those responsible.

Investigation Exposes Fatal Flaws

An independent investigation ordered by Governor Charlie Baker was released at the end of June. The investigation was conducted by Mark Pearlstein, a former federal prosecutor. The 174 pages of the report show a deadly chain of events that led to the deaths of 76 people. The report identifies “profound government failure,” and lack of leadership within the facility for causing these deaths.

While the report does acknowledge the unprecedented nature of COVID-19 and the difficulty containing the virus, it was highly critical of the blatant failure of management and government regulators to establish effective action plans to contain the virus. This includes the unwillingness of facility operators to seek help and assistance from outside agencies tasked with providing personal protective equipment and other supplies designed to protect staff and patients from exposure.

Most egregiously, management of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home deliberately merged two dementia units together. These units were locked away from other units. However, the crowded conditions within the locked unit facilitated the rapid spread of the virus through those 40 residents. Essentially, these individuals were condemned to death and not provided with the support and medications they required. Unsurprisingly, the death rate rose rapidly once these patients began contracting the virus from one another.

Leadership Failures Have Fatal Consequences

While many factors contributed to causing the deaths of the veterans within the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, the report traces these failures back to decisions made by the home’s leadership. This includes the superintendent, the director of nursing, and the medical director. Each of these individuals was responsible for the decision that resulted in this preventable disaster.

Warnings for Other Veterans’ Homes and Nursing Facilities

Holyoke Soldiers’ Home is not unique. Indeed, there are numerous other examples in Illinois and elsewhere across the country where nursing home operators and others responsible for providing eldercare have failed in their duty to residents. These negligent acts have resulted in significant injury and death that was preventable through the implementation of strict and effective infection control procedures.

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