Senator Timilty and Holyoke Soldiers Home Committee to Hold Series of Public Hearings
Holyoke, MA 10/22/2020 – Today (Thursday 10/22/20), the Massachusetts State Legislature’s special joint oversight committee will hold its second of several public hearings on the management of the COVID-19 outbreak at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke. The virtual hearing will be streamed live on the Massachusetts Legislature’s website, at https://malegislature.gov/Events/SpecialEvents/Detail/367
Some family members and health care proxies of the veterans who have called the Holyoke facility “home” offered emotional testimony at the first hearing held in person on Tuesday (10/20/20) at Holyoke Community College. They described the appalling conditions that impacted their loved ones. Tragically, COVID-19 claimed the lives of 76 veterans this past spring at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. Today’s (10/22/20) virtual hearing will be for family members who were unable to testify in person on Tuesday.
“The heartfelt testimony that was offered on the first day of testimony was vital to the special committee’s oversight process,” said State Senator Walter F. Timilty, co-chair of the Special Joint Oversight Committee on the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke COVID-19 Outbreak.
“What these veterans and families have endured is a mass tragedy of epic proportions. I am so very thankful that these family members were able to summon the strength to share the tragic stories of their heroic loved ones with the committee today. Listening to the testimony was a very emotional experience. It is my fervent hope that we, as a committee, are able to find answers for those who have suffered and those who have perished as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak at the Soldiers’ Home.”
In addition to testimony offered by families, the committee will conduct hearings next week in which the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home staff are invited to testify. The staff will have the opportunity to testify either in person at Holyoke Community College on Oct. 27, or virtually on Oct. 29.
“We owe it to our veterans who have perished to make sure that this never happens again,” said Timilty. “Our mission is to ensure that as we move forward, that measures are implemented at the Soldiers’ Home for both the protection and betterment of current and future residents.”
The Special Joint Oversight Committee on the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke COVID-19 Outbreak will be issuing its report prior to March 31.