HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Concerns over the deadly outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home has now reached Capitol Hill.
The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Veterans Affairs heard testimony from a former superintendent of the home.
Paul Barabani and Congressman Richard Neal held a media phone call after the hearing.
This all comes as a veteran resident who had COVID-19 and tested positive again earlier this week, and now the former superintendent is worried another outbreak could be on the way.
A former superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home spoke out on Wednesday after he testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Veterans Affairs about the coronavirus outbreak at the home earlier this year.
"There are many factors that influenced the outcome [of the] Soldiers' Home, and some of them are beyond the control of the staff," Barabani explained.
Barabani served as superintendent more than a decade ago and said a big issue contributing to the death of dozens of veterans residents, was the lack of preparation.
"Once that virus was in there, it was going to be very difficult to contain it. We can do it in certain populations, but especially in the dementia unit, it’s very challenging in the way the rooms are designed," he said. "I think there are four, maybe five beds in the room."
He told Western Mass News another issue was the amount of part-time staff coming to and from the facility.
"The soldiers' home in Holyoke has several staff members [who are] part-time, and I looked at the comparison to Holyoke and Chelsea, and I also have New Hampshire," Barabani said.
He also said nearly 150 employees were part-time.
"Holyoke had 215 full-time people and 148 part-time people employees," he said. "That’s a lot of part-time employees. A part-time employee, most often, works at another facility doing a similar job."
Barabani told us staffing has always been a problem at the home, and that he left because ultimately something was going to go wrong.