Holyoke Soldiers Home Head Resigns Following Indictment
HOLYOKE, MA — The Holyoke Soldiers Home superintendent resigned, the facility’s board revealed Friday, a week after he was criminally charged over the facility’s deadly coronavirus outbreak.
At least 76 veterans died in the outbreak at the state-run facility, in the spring.
The facility’s Board of Trustees was due to meet Monday to discuss Superintendent BennettWalsh’s continued employment. He waived his right to the hearing, after previously overturning an attempt to fire him by the Gov. Charlie Baker administration for running afoul of state law.
Walsh is facing 10 felony charges: five counts of criminal neglect and five counts of causing serious bodily harm to a senior citizen. He was indicted Sept. 24 by a Hampden County grand jury, alongside the Home’s former medical director, Dr. David Clinton.
State Attorney General Maura Healey said the charges stemmed from a decision Walsh and Clinton made to combine dementia units at the hospital, mixing scores of patients who had tested positive for coronavirus with ones who had not. More than 40 veterans were moved into a room designed to hold only about 25 people, Healey said.
Walsh had been on leave from the facility since March.
A report commissioned by Gov. Charlie Baker said that residents would have contracted and died of coronavirus even if better precautions had been taken. But the errors were so severe that the outbreak was much worse than it should’ve been, according to the report.
Along with his resignation, Walsh included a detailed explanation of the decision to combine the two dementia units, which his lawyer called “an effort to defend Bennett Walsh’s reputation and the actions he took to prevent the veterans on March 27.”
The former superintendent could face years in prison, if he is found guilty.
This article originally appeared on the Worcester Patch