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Department of Justice
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Friday, April 10, 2020

Federal Investigation into Conditions at a Nursing Home for Veterans in Massachusetts Announced

The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts have opened an investigation into the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke to examine whether the Soldiers’ Home violated the rights of residents by failing to provide them adequate medical care generally, and during, the coronavirus pandemic.   

The investigation will be conducted under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) which gives the department the authority to investigate violations of the U.S. Constitution and federal law that result from a “pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of such rights” in state-run institutions, including nursing facilities. The federal civil investigation will be separate from any state or independent investigation.

“Our hearts go out to the families of the veterans who passed away,” said Eric Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “We owe it to the veterans, their families, and the public to investigate the facts, determine what happened, ensure compliance with the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, and protect those veterans who continue to reside at the Soldiers’ Home.”

“It would be difficult to overstate our obligation to the health and well-being of elderly and disabled military veterans and, by extension, to their families. The federal Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act specifically protects the rights of those confined in state facilities like the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling. “We will aggressively investigate recent events at the Home and, as needed, require the Commonwealth to adopt reforms to ensure patient safety in the future. My condolences to the families of those veterans who died while in the Home’s care; we will get to the bottom of what happened here.”

The Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section and the Civil Rights Unit at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts are jointly conducting the investigation. Residents of Soldiers’ Home and families are encouraged to contact the department via phone at 1-888-221-6023 or by email at USAMA.victimassistance@usdoj.gov.

Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt. The Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office was established in 2015 with the mission of enhancing federal civil rights enforcement. For more information on the Office’s civil rights efforts, please visit www.justice.gov/USAO-ma/civil-rights.

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 
Updated January 8, 2021