Soldiers' Home Superintendent Removed as Contagion Spreads

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HOLYOKE, Mass. — The superintendent of the Soldiers' Home has been suspended effective immediately.
 
In a brief statement late Monday, Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Dan Tsai said Bennett Walsh was being put on administrative leave. 
 
"It is imperative that the Holyoke Soldiers' Home provide a safe environment for the veteran residents, and the dedicated staff who serve them," he wrote. 
 
A veteran at the 300-bed Soldiers' Home tested positive for COVID-19 more than a week ago. Western Mass News on Sunday reported that the contagion had since spread to both patients and employees and that the state's Emergency Management Agency had set up tents on Friday to screen all employees entering the facility.
 
According to a statement from the long-term nursing and independent living center, employees' temperatures were being taken before they enter the facility, hand sanitizing stations were being installed, movement within the facility was being restricted and residents monitored. 
 
Walsh, a lieutenant colonel and 24-year Marine veteran, was named superintendent four years ago.
 
The home's Twitter feed on March 18 included a quote from Walsh that "The Soldiers' Home Team has stepped up, making sure our Veterans are getting the best care with honor & dignity," in relation to the novel coronavirus. 
 
Val Liptak, a registered nurse and chief executive officer of Western Massachusetts Hospital, is stepping in as interim administrator of the Soldiers' Home. 
 
"We have also implemented an onsite clinical command team comprised of medical, epidemiological, and operational experts responsible for the comprehensive and rapid response to the outbreak of COVID-19," stated Tsai. "Today's actions underscore the state's commitment to our veterans and frontline health care employees during this unprecedented public health crisis."

Tags: COVID-19,   veterans services,   


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Biz Briefs: SABIC Donating to Local United Way to Support COVID-19 Response Efforts

SABIC donation

SABIC, a global leader in diversified chemicals, is donating $25,000 to the Berkshire United Way to help serve the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from $1 million in monetary donations to food banks and community-based agencies in the communities where the company operates, SABIC, whose head office is based in Houston, also is donating approximately $500,000 of its products. SABIC products are used to manufacture personal protection equipment for healthcare workers and medical equipment such as ventilators, patient monitoring devices, face shields, respiratory therapy machines and diagnostic equipment.

The company, which operates the Polymer Processing Development Center in Pittsfield, Mass., also is donating face shields made with SABIC’s LEXAN polycarbonate sheet product to local police and fire departments. SABIC employees, too, are joining together to raise funds that will go to charitable organizations of their choice and the company is matching the employee contributions dollar-for-dollar.

SABIC currently operates 60 manufacturing and compounding plants in more than 50 countries worldwide.

 

Small business survey

The Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire has released a small business survey to assess the greatest needs of small businesses during this COVID-19 crisis. This Small Business Technical Assistance Needs Survey will help CDCSB focus professional technical assistance to businesses where they most need it for them to weather the devastating economic impact of the endemic. All businesses based in the southern Berkshires are encouraged to complete the survey by clicking here.

CDCSB is joining other western Massachusetts CDCs – Hilltown CDC, Franklin County CDC and Valley CDC (Northampton) – in seeking funding to provide free professional business assistance that can include legal and financial advice, strategic planning, access to capital, marketing, pivoting sales to a digital platform, or creating new product lines. This will significantly expand the capacity for small business assistance throughout western Mass., a central part of CDCSB’s economic development mission. 

The CDCSB is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating job opportunities, promoting economic development, and building low-moderate income housing in the southern Berkshires. In collaboration with other local organizations, CDCSB has helped build over 60 affordable housing units, leveraged over $30 million in private and public funding for south Berkshire County and has a current development pipeline of 120 new affordable housing units.

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