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IG report raises new questions about Walsh's hiring at Holyoke Soldiers' Home, site of deadly COVID outbreak

Holyoke Soldiers' Home
WAMC
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Holyoke Soldiers' Home

A report from the Massachusetts Inspector General raises more questions about the appointment in 2016 of Bennett Walsh to run the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.

Walsh was fired as superintendent after the March 2020 COVID-19 outbreak at the home that took the lives of at least 76 veterans. In a statement accompanying the report, Inspector General Glen Cunha said a statute that gives the home’s board of trustees the power to appoint the superintendent was not followed. The board recommended three candidates to the Baker administration, but only Walsh was interviewed.

Governor Charlie Baker, speaking with reporters in June 2020, claimed to have had no role in Walsh getting the job.

After a Boston Globe Spotlight report last year, Baker said he forgot he had indeed interviewed Walsh before naming him superintendent. The Inspector General’s report said it found “critical shortcomings” in the management of the home under Walsh. Criminal charges against Walsh and the former medical director of the home were dismissed last year by a judge. Attorney General Maura Healey, who is a Democratic candidate for governor, has appealed in an effort to get the charges reinstated.

A spokesperson for the state's office of Health and Human Services said the administration is reviewing the Inspector General's report.

The statement said the report made several recommendations that have already been addressed by the Department of Veterans' Services and the Soldiers' Home.

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