Massachusetts starts vaccinating veterans home residents

BOSTON (AP) — With a thumbs up and a round of applause from staff, Air Force veteran Robert Aucoin on Tuesday became the first resident of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in Massachusetts to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“Great, great, leading the way,” Aucoin, 78, said through his Snoopy mask after getting the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine.
Aucoin, who has lived at the state-run home since 2018, served from 1961 to 1965 and worked as the control tower operator at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina during his service, according to the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
The state has made it a priority to get the residents of both the Holyoke facility and the Chelsea Soldier’s Home vaccinated after the coronavirus tore through both state-run facilities for veterans who require long-term care in the spring.
The Holyoke home had one of the country’s deadliest virus outbreaks at a long-term care facility. Seventy-six residents died after contracting the virus in the spring and a 77th died earlier this month.
More than 30 residents of the Chelsea home died after contracting the disease.
An investigation into the Holyoke outbreak by a formal federal prosecutor hired by Gov. Charlie Baker found that management at the home made several “utterly baffling” decisions that helped the disease run rampant.
Two former top administrators have pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence charges connected to the deaths.
In Chelsea, World War II veteran Dominic Pitella, 94, was the first resident to be vaccinated.
Pitella, a former corporal and cook with the 559th Air Service Group, served in the Pacific Theater during World War II starting in 1945. He has lived at the home since 2018, according to state officials.
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BUSY FIELD HOSPITAL
The field hospital set up in the DCU Center in Worcester has treated 161 COVID-19 patients in 22 days, just one patient shy of the total treated in the six weeks the facility was open in the spring, officials said.
“What we are seeing is that the second wave is much more impactful than the first wave this past spring,” Peter Lancette, director of the field hospital’s operations and the facility’s assistant chief nursing officer, told The Telegram & Gazette for a story Monday. “We continue to stay ahead of the patient volume but are bracing for a potential drastic increase in cases due to holiday travel.”
The field hospital that operated from April 9 until May 28 treated 162 patients, Lancette said.
A UMass Memorial Medical Center spokesperson said Monday there were 38 patients in the facility.

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