HOLYOKE, Mass. – The Massachusetts Nurses Association has released the following statement in response to the publication of “The COVID-19 Outbreak at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke; An Independent Investigation Conducted for the Governor of Massachusetts.”
“The report issued June 23 by Attorney Mark W. Pearlstein about the COVID-19 outbreak at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home supports the concerns frontline MNA nurses have repeatedly expressed about staffing and safety conditions at the home. MNA nurses opposed in real time the confounding decisions made by the facility’s leadership that placed veterans and staff in peril.
“For years, nurses have advocated for improved staffing at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. As the outbreak began, nurses called for safe isolation protocols and better availability of personal protective equipment. The failure by the facility leadership to provide these protections led to higher exposure risks for veterans and staff. This report shows the tragedy that can occur when the leaders of healthcare facilities disregard the recommendations made by those on the frontlines.
“The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is 100% in control of the safety standards at state institutions. State officials also oversee healthcare safety in the private sector. Yet the state failed abysmally at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home on basic infection protocol. The state utilized mandatory overtime, which is prohibited in the private sector by law, and employed arcane staffing levels that do not reflect the acuity of the patients. If the state is going oversee private healthcare facilities, they should be even more sensitive to ensuring safe clinical decisions are being made in their own facilities. It is clear decisions made by state leaders did not properly consider the safety of the veterans or staff at HSH. The state failed to operate HSH safely and effectively.
“MNA nurses are proud of the care they have provided to the veterans despite the harrowing conditions described in the report. Our nurses have always put patient safety and care first. This report exposes what happens when leaders detached from the reality of patient care ignore the concerns of frontline nurses and healthcare workers. State officials charged with overseeing the safety of patients and healthcare workers during this pandemic must take responsibility for their decisions and implement the recommendations made by those at the bedside.”
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.