State moves 40 Soldiers’ Home residents to Holyoke hospital

  • The entrance to the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Published: 4/4/2020 1:57:51 PM

Forty residents of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke have been transferred to the Holyoke Medical Center amid a COVID-19 outbreak at the veterans facility that has claimed the lives of at least 15 residents to date.

The transferred residents, who have tested negative for the coronavirus, are being accommodated in the hospital’s Birthing Center and outpatient Cardiovascular Center, which were converted to house them, the hospital said in a statement.

The transfer, which ambulances and the National Guard began Friday, came at the request of the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the hospital said.

“We were asked if we could accommodate Soldiers’ Home residents in our facility and are responding to the request to assist in any way we possibly can,” said Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems. “These are unprecedented times and we have a duty to help any and all that need our assistance and an additional level of duty to assist our veterans.”

Hospital spokeswoman Rebecca MacGregor was unable to say why the 40 Soldiers’ Home residents were moved or how they were chosen. “That was decided by the Soldiers’ Home,” she said. Soldiers’ Home officials could not be reached for comment.

The Executive Office of Health and Human Services, MacGregor said, “was looking to move patients, and we stepped up to answer their call.” The state would be paying for the hospital to accommodate the transferred residents, she said.

Meanwhile, OB/GYN doctors and midwives at the Birthing Center will continue to provide outpatient obstetric and gynecological care at the hospital. Women in labor will be sent for delivery to Mercy Medical Center in Springfield.​​​​​​​ The outpatient Cardiovascular Center has also been temporarily relocated to 2 Hospital Drive, Suite 203, Holyoke.​​​​​​​

The Birthing Center has been handling between 350 and 400 births a year for the past several years, MacGregor said, making it a unit “that could easily accommodate the state’s request.”

State officials said Friday that 21 veteran residents have died at the Soldiers’ Home since March 25.

Of those who died, 15 tested positive for COVID-19, three had tests pending, two tested negative and another’s status was still unknown. A total of 59 veteran residents have tested positive for the virus, in addition to 18 staff members, state officials said. In addition, 160 veteran residents have tested negative.


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