June 26, 2020

Warren, Markey, Pressley Request Independent Investigation Into the Outbreak of COVID-19 at Chelsea Soldiers' Home

Lawmakers Seek Independent Investigation to Prevent Further Deaths and Infections, Ensure Safer Care at Soldiers' Home and Other Long-Term Care Facilities Across the Commonwealth; Request Follows the Release of an Independent Investigation into the COVID-19 Outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home

Boston, MA - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), along with Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07), today wrote to Governor Charlie Baker requesting an independent investigation into the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic at Chelsea Soldiers' Home (CSH). 

This letter comes after disturbing reports of the deaths of veteran residents at Holyoke Soldiers' Home (HSH) and Chelsea Soldiers' Home. To date, 31 veteran residents of CSH have died from COVID-19. In April, Governor Baker called for an independent investigation examining the COVID-19 response  at Holyoke Soldiers' Home, where 76 veterans have died from the disease, and the findings of the investigation by attorney Mark W. Pearlstein were released earlier this week.  

"Given that 31 veteran residents of the Home have died from COVID-19 and an independent investigation of the outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home (HSH) produced useful findings and recommendations, we believe a similar, independent and thorough inquiry at CSH would help save veterans' lives, prevent further infections, and ensure a healthier and safer care environment for both residents and staff," the lawmakers wrote.

"Veteran residents of the Chelsea Soldiers' Home - like all veterans in long-term care facilities - deserve a standard of care that honors and dignifies their service and sacrifices," the lawmakers wrote. "Like the families of veterans who died or became infected from COVID-19 at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home, the families of Chelsea Soldiers' Home veterans who have suffered from this disease deserve meaningful, lasting accountability and reforms. An independent inquiry can help facilitate such results."

Earlier this week, Senator Warren issued a statement on the independent investigation of the outbreak of COVID-19 at HSH. In April, Senator Warren along with the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation sent a letter to the Director of the Veterans Affairs (VA) New England Health Care System, expressing concern about the disturbing reports of the deaths of veteran residents at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home and the Chelsea Soldiers' Home. In May, Senator Warren joined Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Bob Casey (D-Penn.) in writing to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting a review of the oversight by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) of quality of care at State Veterans Homes (SVHs). The GAO agreed to conduct the audit requested by Senator Warren and her colleagues. 

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