UNION GROVE — Susan Nosalik’s husband tested positive for COVID-19 at the Veterans Home at Union Grove on December 12th, and just nine days later he died from the virus. But when families were updated about the current coronavirus outbreak at the home, the mention of her husband's death was nowhere to be found.
"They dismissed him as not being important," said Nosalik.
It’s been more than a week since Susan Nosalik’s husband, a retired U.S. Marine, and former Racine police officer, Joseph Nosalik died after contracting the coronavirus at the Veterans Homes at Union Grove.
"He wasn’t responding anymore, so I knew he was dying," said a tearful Nosalik.
To keep families informed, the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs has been sending out updates weekly on the number of members and staff who’ve tested positive for COVID-19. The most recent update, dated December 30th, cited 17 active positive cases between staff and residents. The second COVID-19 outbreak at the home this year.
But nothing was mentioned about Joseph’s death.
"I just thought that that was odd, not truthful. Not acknowledging that my husband died as a result of COVID, that he contracted out there," said Nosalik.
Nosalik says she reached out to the commandant to ask why he didn’t inform families about her husband's death. But she still hasn't received a response.
"I felt dismissed. She didn’t even have the courage to send back a response"
Her story and concerns about the lack of transparency from the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs also caught the eye of a United States Congressman.
"It’s critical that we understand what happened for all of those loved ones that have someone at the facility in Union Grove. It’s just absolutely essential. We need to work to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect our veterans in the state of Wisconsin," said Representative Bryan Steil (R-Wisconsin).
In the December 30th update, the commandant did say COVID-19 vaccinations began at the Union Grove facility on Monday.
In a Jan. 4 update, Department of Veterans Affairs Commandant Erin Johnson said that a total of 15 members and nine employees have tested positive for the coronavirus at its Union Grove facility. That is seven more confirmed cases since the Dec. 30 update.