HOLYOKE, Mass. —
After seven more staff members and one veteran at the hard-hit Holyoke Soldiers’ Home tested positive for COVID-19 this week, 5 Investigates has now learned that critical health care workers at the home have traveled out of state and gone back to work without quarantining,
5 Investigates also has confirmed that testing staff for COVID-19 is not mandatory.
Most people who work at the Holyoke home are considered essential critical workers. That meant, until recently, that they were exempt from travel restrictions and have not been required to self-quarantine even if they traveled to hot zones around the country.
Some relatives of veterans and union officials question why that was the case in a facility that’s already suffered so much during the pandemic.
“To see that they could be going through a COVID crisis again, it’s just heartbreaking,” said Cheryl Turgeon, who has had many sleepless nights worrying about her father, 89-year-old Korean War veteran Dennis Thresher, who lives at the Holyoke home.
Dozens of Thresher’s fellow veterans have died from COVID-19 and her father’s health has deteriorated.Meanwhile, seven staff members and one veteran — all who had previously recovered from the deadly virus — tested positive again this week.Turgeon believes any staff traveling to states with a high number of COVID-19 cases should have to quarantine before coming through the doors of the soldiers’ home.“Holyoke Soldiers’ Home is hallowed ground right now. Lives were lost, families were torn apart,” she said. “And I think that an overabundance of caution should be taken from the get go.”Sources told 5 Investigates, in recent months, staff and contracted workers have traveled out of […]