HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Congressman Richard Neal held a press conference at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home today, and he is now calling for change to happen at the facility where more than 70 veteran residents died from the coronavirus.

The Holyoke Soldiers' Home has been under the microscope since the coronavirus spread throughout the facility. The killing of at least 76 veteran residents.

"I am proud to have him take the initiative to stand up and say this is what we want to do and stand beside him and our coalition for the betterment of the veterans of western Massachusetts," said Holyoke Soldiers' Home's former superintendent Paul Barabanis.

The congressman backed Barabanis' recommendations on key changes that need to be made at the home, during a press conference on Saturday.

Those recommendations include:

  • Renovating all rooms, including having a bathroom in each.
  • Adult day health care facility.
  • Having input from many, including residents from the soldiers' home.

The congressman told Western Mass News he has noticed spacing being an issue at the facility...

"If you visited the dementia unit here, you would've noticed, immediately, the proximity of the patients. They sat on top of each other," Neal explained.

The congressman is calling on the state to renovate the building...As the Chelsea Soldiers' Home is in the process of redeveloping the campus, where at least 30 residents died from COVID-19.

"What's about to happen with the investments in Chelsea Soldiers' Home also be consistent with what is being proposed with here," Neal noted.

This comes just days after Governor Charlie Baker announced the finding of the state-run investigation into the Holyoke Soldiers' Home. The list of reforms includes a greater oversight from the Department of Veteran Services.

The congressman told Western Mass News he will do anything he can to help.

"I intend to offer any assistance that the federal government can, remembering that this is a state facility," Neal said.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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