Here’s what we know:
The virus first appeared in the retirement home sometime in March. The patient was symptomatic. However, he was still allowed to move freely between the common areas. As matters grew worse, the facility admits to being underprepared. Staff moved freely without proper precautions. This was partially due to the fact there was a shortage of protective equipment, but they have also been short on staff. (Our source confirmed the home has been understaffed for some time. According to the Holyoke Facebook page, they are currently hiring.) This has left the facility “scrambling” to play catch up. Shockingly, some nurses were even reprimanded for “causing alarm” by wearing protective equipment.
The situation has since grown more dire. The dining room became a makeshift field hospital. Sick Veterans were sleeping right next to healthy ones. Rooms were filling up with the infected quickly. Although the hospital had no sanitary barriers, they continued to centralize.
As a result, Veterans began dying every day. One young employee was denied time to grieve after filling several body bags. Our source tells us the most recent count is 82 Veteran deaths.
When this began, 226 residents lived at the center. This means over 30 percent of the aging Veterans have died because of the virus. Another 83 of our nation’s heroes have tested positive at Holyoke. There are currently multiple investigations ongoing to determine exactly what is happening. The finger pointing began shortly after the information broke news.
The controversy of blame
The superintendent, Bennett Walsh, has been put on paid administrative leave. He has largely been blamed for the disaster. In contrast, Walsh paints a different picture. Walsh’s lawyer made public a two-page statement claiming Walsh informed the governor’s office. Furthermore, he claims he was denied aid by the state multiple times.
Walsh stated, “We provided updates on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day. These updates were by phone, text, email, conference calls and official report forms.”
Right now, all we can really say is this feels like a colossal failure of the system. It was a failure to our most vulnerable Veterans. Our retired and aging Veterans deserve better than this. This is an ongoing situation and we may provide a follow up story once the dust settles.
What do you think? Could this have been handled in a better manner? Drop a comment!