"Governor Charlie Baker was indignant last June, as he outlined the results of an investigation into the crisis at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home.
“It’s a very special place, and has always held a special place in my heart,” Baker said of the state-run home, where a COVID-19 outbreak had killed 76 veterans that spring — one of the highest death tolls of any senior-care center in the country.
The report by Boston attorney Mark Pearlstein was “nothing short of gut wrenching,” Baker said. The chaos and carnage at the Soldiers’ Home was “truly horrific and tragic.” There had been inexcusable failures of leadership by superintendent Bennett Walsh and of oversight by Secretary of Veterans’ Services Francisco Ureña, Baker said. So they both had to go.
At that press conference, Baker and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders took no personal responsibility for the massive loss of life at a facility they oversaw. Instead, they laid blame solely on officials below them, particularly Walsh and Ureña, in what a Boston Globe Spotlight Team investigation has found was an often misleading narrative marked by omissions and false assertions.
The governor distanced himself from the decision to hire superintendent Walsh, who now faces charges of criminal neglect during the pandemic. Baker said Walsh had been appointed by the Soldiers’ Home board of trustees, which “really wanted Bennett Walsh to have that job. And I can tell you that the first time I ever met him or talked to him was when we swore him in.”
That wasn’t true. Baker interviewed Walsh before naming him superintendent in 2016, despite Walsh’s lack of health care management experience, an administration spokesperson recently confirmed."
|"the veterans known to have died from COVID through May 23, 2020"|