Search
  • NHDP

RELEASE: Sununu Releases Sham Veterans Home Report, Which Does Not Investigate What Caused Outbreak

Concord, N.H. -- Late last night, Governor Sununu released a sham report that failed to investigate what caused the COVID outbreak at the New Hampshire Veterans Home. The outbreak led to the deaths of 37 veterans, and resulted in 93 residents -- 37 percent of the 250 residents at the facility -- and 102 staff contracting the virus. In a blatant attempt to avoid scrutiny, Sununu touted the sham report at a press conference without providing the actual document to reporters in advance. After outcry from the families of veterans and the public, Sununu had finally agreed to provide a report on the deaths at the Veterans Home, but he did not deliver one yesterday. The so-called “report” does not even attempt to assess what could have prevented or mitigated the outbreak at the Veterans Home. Rather, it simply provides the results of an examination of the Veterans Home's compliance with COVID protocols on one day -- March 12, 2021 -- five months after the first reported death and seven weeks after the outbreak ended. Nowhere in the report does it mention concerns about testing lags at the start of the outbreak, a lack of PPE, staffing shortages, or residents having to wait days for the COVID vaccine. It also does not address Sununu’s summer 2020 veto of HB 1246, a bill that would have provided $25 million for long-term care facilities like the Veterans Home to prepare for COVID outbreaks. In fact, the report makes only passing mention of the deadly outbreak at all. Though the report does not evaluate the State’s handling of the devastating Veterans Home outbreak, it still includes some alarming revelations. The report notes that, as of March 12, less than half of Veterans Home staff had received the COVID vaccine, that Veterans Home staff still needed additional training on PPE use four months after the tragic outbreak, and the facility did not have basic cleaning supplies in the staff kitchen. In contrast to Sununu’s eight-page sham report that does not assess what caused the outbreak at the Veterans Home, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker released a 174-page report from an independent investigation that thoroughly examines what caused a COVID outbreak at Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke. Sununu has ignored calls for an independent investigation into the outbreak at the Veterans Home, refusing to release documents regarding the state’s response to the outbreak at the New Hampshire Veterans Home. “The sham report that Chris Sununu released, in lieu of an actual investigation, is a disgrace to our veterans, to their families, and to the staff at the New Hampshire Veterans Home who deserve answers on the outbreak that took the lives of 37 veterans,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “It’s absolutely shameful that Sununu has refused to actually investigate the cause of the outbreak and protect the health and safety of our veterans and nursing home staff -- and instead is just trying to protect his political future and cover up his failure to mitigate the outbreak. Our veterans and their families deserve so much better from Chris Sununu.”

###

Addition background information about the Veterans Home Outbreak:

The First Reported Death at the Veterans Home was in November

  • According to the Union Leader, the first reported death of a resident from COVID was on November 14th. [Union Leader, 12/7/20]

New Hampshire State Senators Pressed Sununu on His Inaction After the Start of the Outbreak

  • Senate Minority Leader Donna Soucy and Sen. Lou D'Allesandro sent a letter to the governor expressing concern over a lack of action from Sununu and they called for an implementation of a plan to prevent further spread of the virus, address staffing shortages and ensure the availability of personal protective equipment. [Associated Press, 12/3/20]

The VA Found Unacceptable Lags in Testing During the Outbreak

  • The VA found a variety of issues at the Veterans Home, including, “lags in turnaround time for laboratory processing of COVID-19 tests for residents and employees.” [Laconia Daily Sun, 12/11/20]

Family Members of Residents Reported That Staff Were Asked To Wear The Same Mask For As Much As Seven Days Straight.

  • New Hampshire’s Federal delegation shared reports from Veterans Home residents’ family members that “Nurses and medical staff are asked to use masks for seven days straight.” [Laconia Daily Sun, 12/11/20]

There Was a Facility Wide Staffing Shortage at the Veterans Home in the Midst of the Outbreak

  • According to the Concord Monitor, the Tilton home “made a plea to the public to apply to work at the facility, as the facility faced a rampant coronavirus outbreak and staff shortages in nearly every position— security officers, food workers, maintenance crews, laundry workers, and nurses.” [Concord Monitor, 12/8/20]

Veterans Home Residents and Staff Had to Wait Days for Access to the Vaccine Due to New Hampshire’s Flawed Vaccine Distribution Process

  • In New Hampshire, residents at long-term care facilities had to wait days to access the COVID vaccine because Sununu signed New Hampshire up for a flawed vaccine distribution system. [InDepthNH, 12/14/21]

Over the Summer, Sununu Vetoed a Bipartisan Bill that Would Have Required the Veterans Home to Adequately Prepare For a Possible Outbreak

  • Senator Cindy Rosenwald called out Sununu’s veto of a bipartisan bill – which was supported by Sununu’s own Department of Health and Human Services – and would have required an independent assessment to provide a preparedness plan in the event of a second COVID-19 wave at the New Hampshire Veterans Home and other facilities.

  • Sununu vetoed HB 1246 in July, calling it “redundant.”