Veteran’s home where a third of residents have died blasted by dead resident’s daughter

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A daughter whose father died in America’s worst-hit nursing home has taken aim at ‘mismanagement’ and ‘complacency’ after a third of residents passed away with coronavirus.

Susan Kenny was forced to scrawl ‘is my father still alive?’ and ‘shame on you’ on her car in blue grease crayon after hearing nothing about 78-year-old veteran Charles Lowell for 30 hours.

When she arrived at the Holyoke Medical Center in Massachusetts, she claims to have even found staff ‘joking’ about the virus, which has killed 70 residents and infected around 80 other veterans and just as many staff.

The long-term care facility has become the deadliest known nursing home in the country and has prompted an urgent shake-up of senior leadership.

Kenny, whose father died on April 15, is demanding those to blame are held responsible and insists ‘somebody screwed up’.

Choking on her tears, she this morning recalled both her struggle to squeeze any updates about her father from the home and her horror upon seeing the state of care. 

Susan Kenny blasted the nursing home where her dead father Charles Lowell was a resident 

Kenny was forced to scrawl 'is my father still alive?' and 'shame on you' on her car in blue grease crayon after hearing nothing about 78-year-old veteran for 30 hours

Kenny was forced to scrawl ‘is my father still alive?’ and ‘shame on you’ on her car in blue grease crayon after hearing nothing about 78-year-old veteran for 30 hours

When she arrived at the Holyoke Medical Center in Massachusetts, she claims to have even found staff 'joking' about the virus, which has killed around a third of its residents

When she arrived at the Holyoke Medical Center in Massachusetts, she claims to have even found staff ‘joking’ about the virus, which has killed around a third of its residents

She told Today: ‘They had established a hotline on Tuesday (March 31) the day before. I had great difficulty calling that number. 

‘On Thursday I didn’t hear back for over 30 hours. So on Friday 3, (April) I wrote on the side of my car windows with a grease crayon ‘is my father alive? It’s been over 30 hours without a call and shame on you soldier’s home’

‘And I began to drive to the soldiers home to find out for myself. I had seen the death toll rising daily and I needed to know if my father was alive.’

On her arrival, she claimed to have shouted at a woman wearing scrubs: ‘Who the hell is in charge here?’

She added: ‘I saw a young woman come out the building and she had scrubs on, and she saw what was on my car and hung her head and gave out a sigh and I knew she felt as horrible as I did, and she said she knew who my father was.’ 

The Air Force veteran was an air launch missile guide technician for the 17th Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadron until 1965 before working at IBM

The Air Force veteran was an air launch missile guide technician for the 17th Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadron until 1965 before working at IBM

The long-term care facility has become the deadliest known nursing home in the country and has prompted an urgent shake-up of senior leadership.

The long-term care facility has become the deadliest known nursing home in the country and has prompted an urgent shake-up of senior leadership.

The staff member offered to put her in touch with her father that evening, but Kenny declined because she wanted him to rest and was happy he was alive.

She soon did visit with her mother Alice but claims her nephew Christian, Charles’s grandson, was prevented because the staff would only allow two visitors.

Kenny said: ‘But they did arrange a Facetime so he could tell him he would take care of my mother and thank you for raising him to be the person he is. 

‘And then my father passed the next day. I know my mother wouldn’t trade that time for the world. 

‘We saw him for half an hour and he held her hand tightly for all that time.’

The Air Force veteran was an air launch missile guide technician for the 17th Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadron until 1965 before working at IBM. He leaves behind his wife of almost 60 years. 

Kenny this morning tore into the staff, blaming the huge death toll on a ‘combination of both mismanagement and lack of proper equipment’.

She added: ‘I also feel that although many of the staff do a fantastic job I think there are staff who have become complacent with their job.

‘As I was explaining with my dad why I wouldn’t be able to come to visit, there was another member of staff arm in arm with another veteran, joking about the virus. 

‘These veterans, they’re not their guys these are our family members and we paid to have them cared for in a professional manner.’

Several investigations into the deaths are underway and the home’s superintendent Bennett Walsh was placed on administrative leave on March 30 and the CEO of Western Massachusetts Hospital, Val Liptak, took over operations.

Walsh has defended his response and accused state officials of falsely claiming they weren’t notified quickly enough about the spread of the virus. 

His lawyer William Bennett said on Wednesday that Walsh wants to let investigations into the home unfold before commenting further. 

This week, eight ‘coaches’ were brought into the home to ensure staff are using personal protective equipment properly, officials said. 

And dozens of National Guard members have been sent there to help, but staffers say it’s too little, too late. 

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said she is looking into whether legal action is warranted. And the Massachusetts U.S. attorney’s office and Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division are investigating whether officials violated residents’ rights by failing to provide them proper medical care.

Family members say they are hopeful those investigations will provide answers and perhaps justice. The veterans deserved to be protected by the country they gave so much of their lives to, they say.

‘You’re dealing with a population who either volunteered or was drafted and throughout the duration of their lives have always put the welfare of others in front of themselves,’ said state Rep. John Velis, a major in the Army Reserve who visited the home last week.

‘The least we can do for them as a commonwealth, the least we can do for them as a nation is to make sure that they can live a peaceful, safe remaining time period they have on this earth,’ he said. 

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