Editor note: This story has been updated after getting new information from the state that there are no positive cases of COVID-19 within the Holyoke Soldiers' Home. In a letter sent to families of residents, facility officials stated a resident had tested positive since recovering from an initial diagnosis.
HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- There was a positive coronavirus case scare at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home on Monday.
Holyoke Soldiers' Home officials confirmed there are no COVID-19 cases currently in the home. This is after one resident who tested positive was retested which came back negative.
Members of the Soldiers' Home Coalition spoke exclusively to Western Mass News with their message to state officials in the first legislative hearings Tuesday.
“Our family members have been through so much,” said John Paradis, member of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Coalition.
Western Mass News obtained a statement from a spokesperson from the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services that said:
“The health of all veteran residents of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke is being constantly monitored. Regular surveillance and diagnostic testing are routine and ongoing for veterans and surveillance testing for staff. This weekend, three clinically recovered veterans had symptoms similar to COVID-19, and per current infection control protocol, they were immediately isolated and tested, and out of an abundance of caution, visitation has been temporarily suspended. The veterans have since tested negative. The Home immediately implemented enhanced precautions in the unit and throughout the Home, in addition to the continuation of strict infection control protocols to keep veteran residents and staff safe. COVID-19 will be with us until there is a safe and effective vaccine available.”
This came after one resident's nasal swab came back positive, but that veteran has since tested negative.
“We want to make sure what happened with COVID-19 this past spring doesn’t happen again,” Paradis said.
This positive case came as the coalition is holding a standout Tuesday morning at Holyoke Community College in support of families set to testify before a joint oversight committee of the state legislature -- their first hearings on the COVID-19 outbreak at the home.
“This is part of the community-wide support effort to show that we are concerned about the future for the home and the state to make sure that they are doing everything they can to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Paradis said.
The coalition is made up of family members of veterans who have died from the coronavirus while living in the home and family members with veterans currently in the home.
Paradis said that although he feels there is progress from the state, they want to make sure families aren’t reliving this nightmare.
“The time is now to fix what happened for future generations,” he said. “We want to see a new home. We’re hopeful, but we’re also looking at this with great vigilance and monitoring the situation, like I think everyone should be taking all the right precautions.”
Holyoke Soldiers’ Home officials said all residents and staff are being retested for the virus between Monday and Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the standout is Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the entrance of Holyoke Community College.