State Rep. Dave Robertson Supports Bill For New Protections & Organization At State Soldier’s Homes

Below is a press release from State Representative Dave Robertson’s Office:

BOSTON, MA — Following the release of the investigation of the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home, where 77 veterans passed from infection and complications, the House of Representatives was joined by Representatives Robertson and Nguyen in approving a new system overseeing the state’s care-facilities for veterans. Creating an oversight council, ombudsmen positions to advocate for residents, and updating oversight and reporting requirements the bill sets out to provide additional levels of protection for those in care of the Soldier’s Homes of Chelsea and Holyoke.

“When I was on the Committee for Veterans and Federal Affairs, I was one of the first to read the follow up report of what occurred, and more importantly what didn’t occur. It was staggering,” said Representative David Robertson (D-Wilmington). “The report revealed two major issues, one was the physical layout of the building which exacerbated COVID’s impact but also limited the ability to treat veterans regardless of their ailment or needs. Secondly was the issues with the chain of command, which this bill starts to address.”

The House of Representatives previously passed legislation approving the complete reconstruction of the state’s western soldiers home, aiming to provide a new campus with superior residences and treatment centers for veterans.

Rep. Nguyen (D-Andover) said, “We lost far too many veterans in the Soldiers’ Homes at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. That’s why I was proud to cast my vote in favor of reforms at the Soldiers’ Homes. Our Veterans, who put everything on the line for our country, deserve better treatment, and it is our responsibility to give it to them.”

In addition to clarifying the chain of command, the legislation requires that management of the two state soldier’s homes hold certification in nursing home management. The legislation also established ombudsman positions, which would provide full-time advocates for veterans residing in the home an avenue for issues, complaints, or other concerns. The bill also created a state-wide veterans advocate officer.

The bill now proceeds to the Senate for passage.

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