Soldiers' Home Official Defends Coronavirus Response After 27 Deaths

The Soldiers’ Home. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The Soldiers’ Home. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The superintendent of a Massachusetts veterans home who was placed on leave following COVID-19 deaths there said Thursday that state officials were not kept in the dark about illnesses at the facility.

Bennett Walsh said he is cooperating with Gov. Charlie Baker’s investigation into his actions as superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. Walsh said reports that state officials were not notified about the virus’s spread and staffing problems at the home are false.

“State officials knew that Holyoke needed as much help as possible. No one was kept in the dark,” Walsh said in an emailed statement. Walsh is on administrative leave.

Attorney General Maura Healey has also launched an investigation into COVID-19 deaths at the home, saying her office is trying to determine whether any legal action is warranted.

Officials said Wednesday that 27 residents have died, 20 of whom tested positive. Another 62 residents and 68 staff members have also tested positive.

Walsh said they notified state officials on March 27 that 28 veterans had exhibited symptoms and two veterans had died. Walsh said he asked that day for National Guard medical personnel to assist staff at the home but his request was denied.



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