Renovations At Holyoke Soldiers Home
By Paul Tuthill
Holyoke, MA – A long term care facility for military veterans in western Massachusetts is being renovated. Projects totaling close to seven million dollars are in the works or in the planning stages at the state owned Holyoke Soldiers Home..WAMC's Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
A one million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and 600 thousand dollars from the state is paying to replace all the windows in the Holyoke Soldiers Home. It will make the building, which opened in 1952, more energy efficient. Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal highlighted the project during a tour of the facility Tuesday
Neal said the military veteran population will swell over the next few years because of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have gone on for a decade. With life expectancy increasing there will be greater demand for long term care and a need to keep places like the Holyoke Soldiers Home from falling into disrepair or obsolencence.
Steven Como, the chairman of the board of trustees for the Holyoke Soldiers Home says there are more than a dozen active projects under construction or being planned. These include improvements to the building's safety systems, elevator upgrades, replacing the water main, and installing a new greenhouse.
The Holyoke Soldiers Home is one of two state owned long term care centers for veterans in Massachusetts. The other is located in the eastern part of the state in Chelsea. The Holyoke Soldiers Home sits on a hill top overlooking Interstate 91, just a few miles south of the large VA medical center in Northampton. The Superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers Home, Paul Barabani says the two facilities compliment one another.
There are more than 260 long term care patients at the Holyoke Soldiers Home.
Outpatient services were stopped due to budget cuts at the end of the 2009. But after protests by veterans' organization statewide, the Patrick administration reopened the clinic . Before the shutdown it treated about 22 hundred veterans a year.
Mass. Lt Governor Timothy Murray is scheduled to visit the Holyoke Soldiers Home later this week to mark the reopening of an outpatient dental clinic.