State Lawmakers Look To Improve Governance, Oversight For Soliders' Homes

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio)— State lawmakers introduced a bill that seeks to improve governance and oversight at the state's soldiers' homes following the deaths of 76 veterans at a soldiers' home in Holyoke.

State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell and State Sen. Mike Rush drafted the legislation that seeks to create new clearly defined chains of command as well as enforce more accountability and responsibility within soldier home leadership.

“We found the causes of this tragedy were numerous on many levels of governance," Rep. Campbell told WBZ NewsRadio in a phone interview.

The legislation follows the 14 key findings and recommendations from a report from the Special Joint Oversight Committee that addressed issues with the homes. The bill will increase inspections at soldiers' homes in the state, set up new guidelines for superintendents, and require annual performance reviews for leadership.

The bill also has special provisions for handling a future public health crisis at a soldiers' home, including running practice emergency response plans and requiring an infection control specialist to work full time at each home.

Rep. Campbell said she hopes this bill can help the concerns of veterans and their families.

“They have every right to demand accountability for what happened at Holyoke and they have every right to demand comprehensive change in the way our soldier’s homes are governed," Rep. Campbell said. "We in the legislature are determined to put forth comprehensive changes that will prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again."

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