Members of a special legislative oversight committee investigating the COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home earlier in the pandemic will be back in the western part of the state Tuesday to hear from current or former staff, staffing agencies and unions connected to the long-term care facility about what happened.
The committee, co-chaired by Rep. Linda Dean Campbell and Sen. Walter Timilty, traveled to Holyoke last week to hear from families who had either lost a loved one or had a parent or husband still living at the Soldiers' Home.
More hearings this week will focus on testimony from those who have worked at the facility during the pandemic, including an in-person hearing on Tuesday at Holyoke Community College beginning at 11 a.m. and a 9:30 a.m. virtual hearing. Those who don't want to testify in-person or virtually can do so in writing.
Seventy-six veterans at the home died from one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in a long-term care facility in the country. An independent investigation by former U.S. Attorney Mark Pearlstein concluded that decisions made by former Superintendent Bennett Walsh and other officials contributed to the crisis by combining care units and placing patients in close quarters where transmission could occur more easily.
Last week, the legislative committee conducting further inquiry heard from families who said the facility was and remains understaffed, and who said communication with families had been severely lacking