The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division announced Friday that the DOJ and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts have opened an investigation into the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke to examine whether the nursing facility violated the rights of residents by failing to provide them adequate medical care generally, and during, the coronavirus pandemic.
Since late March, at least 32 patients have reportedly died at the Massachusetts nursing home. Twenty-eight of the victims have tested positive for COVID-19.
According to the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), which runs the nursing facility, as of April 9, sixty-nine residents and 68 staff had tested positive for coronavirus. Forty-six residents who tested negative were moved to a nearby hospital to keep them safe from the virus.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the veterans who passed away,” stated Eric Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “We owe it to the veterans, their families, and the public to investigate the facts, determine what happened, ensure compliance with the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, and protect those veterans who continue to reside at the Soldiers’ Home.”
“It would be difficult to overstate our obligation to the health and well-being of elderly and disabled military veterans and, by extension, to their families. The federal Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act specifically protects the rights of those confined in state facilities like the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling in a recent press release. “We will aggressively investigate recent events at the Home and, as needed, require the Commonwealth to adopt reforms to ensure patient safety in the future. My condolences to the families of those veterans who died while in the Home’s care; we will get to the bottom of what happened here.”