Petition to the Office of Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito
This petition made change with 1,946 supporters!
Before signing petition, read important note below:
The petition is on Change.org, a petition platform website. Be advised that our coalition (FundHolyokeSoldiersHomeNow.org) is not accepting or collecting donations for our efforts or doing fundraising. Change.org as a business accepts donations and encourages people to donate to their business but we don't receive anything back. The donation feature is enabled by Change.org as they are the ones asking for donations -- not us. You do NOT need to donate anything to sign the petition. We do not need any money for this effort -- our petition is to the Governor of Massachusetts to fund the construction of a new and/or improved Soldiers' Home in Holyoke.
I support immediate action by Governor Baker and legislature to provide state funding to renovate and expand the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke by July 31, 2020, in order to allow the correction of serious conditions which have been ignored for several years.
I am signing this petition because:
1. I believe that all Veterans in both Massachusetts State state-funded Veteran Homes (Chelsea and Holyoke) deserve the same living conditions, in full compliance with U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and other federal standards.
2. The Baker Administration has failed to provide equal treatment of all Veterans by ignoring the long documented unsafe conditions and understaffing at Holyoke while it has funded a new facility at Chelsea and has provided Chelsea with a budget far exceeding that of Holyoke.
3. In 2010, the rooms at Holyoke were determined to be non-compliant with the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standard.
4. In 2012, The state Needs Assessment Study determined that “of the 278 current beds, less than 5% meet VA Standards.” A plan was developed to build a new addition housing 120 private rooms, as well as renovate the existing building with one- and two-person rooms; resulting in a capacity of 270 fully compliant beds at Holyoke.
5. In 2013, the project received VA approval for a Construction Grant from the VA which would provide 65% funding for the construction. Despite VA approval, the state has never committed to the 35% Matching Funds.
6. In November 2017, with the support of Governor Baker and the legislature, the state approved $199 million to build a new 154-bed long-term care facility at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home.; before receiving VA Grant approval; while disregarding the long- documented deficiencies at Holyoke.
7. In April 2018, the VA approved the 65% federal funding for construction of a new 154-bed facility at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home; and in November, a groundbreaking was held at Chelsea.
8. Meanwhile, the project at Holyoke, approved for 65% federal funding in 2013, has not received the commitment from the Baker administration for State Matching Funds.
9. The lack of appropriate space at Holyoke appears to have been a contributing factor in the rapid spread of the Novel Coronavirus-19 at the Home, which resulted in 76 Veterans who tested for positive for COVID-19 and subsequently died.
10. It is now time for the administration and legislature to atone for their misguided decisions and fulfill their “moral and statutory obligation” to the Veterans, their families, the staff and the Commonwealth by (1) updating the 2012 project cost, (2) submitting the revised figures to the VA and (3) certifying the commitment of State Matching Funds to the VA by July 31, 2020.
11. In addition, Governor Baker has continued to underfund the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke resulting in the lack of sufficient nursing, logistical support and administrative staff to efficiently providing the care and hygienic environment for the Veterans to reside; further endangering the safety and efficient care of the Veterans who reside at Holyoke.
12. I believe that the failure of the Department of Veterans Services’ Secretary Francisco Urena, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, and Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito have clearly betrayed the service of those who sacrificed to preserve the freedom of our Commonwealth and our Nation.
13. I further believe that their individual and collective refusal to act on well-documented deficiencies, the pattern of disparate funding and ignoring of numerous appeals from the previous superintendent (s) and employee unions resulted in Veterans at Holyoke being deprived of their rights and constitutes an established pattern of deprivation on the part of the administration, which placed the Veterans at risk.
14. It is time for immediate action to rectify this situation by expediting the funding of the construction of a new Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke and by increasing the budget to ensure safe care with honor and dignity for the Veteran residents who are in the hands of the state.
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