COVID-19: Statement from Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary on Holyoke Soldiers’ Home

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Editor’s note: The numbers are shaky but as many as 11 residents of the Holyoke Soldiers Home have died in recent days, likely due to the Coronavirus. Another 11 are believed to be sick with the virus. Superintendent Bennett Walsh, who ran the facility  was immediately put on administrative leave. Published reports say a tipster anonymously alerted Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse who sprung into action on March 28 and connected with Secretary of Health and Human Services Mary Lou Sudders by Sunday, March 29. The Soldier’s Home is a 277-bed veterans center and hospital.

Below is a statement by Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Dan Tsai:

“It is imperative that the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home provide a safe environment for the veteran residents, and the dedicated staff who serve them. Superintendent Bennett Walsh has been placed on paid administrative leave effective immediately. Val Liptak, R.N., currently the CEO of Western Massachusetts Hospital, will assume responsibility for the administration of the Soldiers’ Home at this time.

We have also implemented an onsite clinical command team comprised of medical, epidemiological, and operational experts responsible for the comprehensive and rapid response to the outbreak of COVID-19.

All of these enhancements will build upon the existing protocols and work that align with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidance. Today’s actions underscore the state’s commitment to our veterans and frontline health care employees during this unprecedented public health crisis.” — Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Dan Tsai