HOLYOKE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Holyoke Soldier’s Home Board of Trustees received a letter of resignation Friday from embattled Superintendent Bennett Walsh, who was indicted last week in connection with a deadly COVID-19 outbreak that killed 76 veterans at the Home.
According to MassLive, Bennett wrote to the Board on October 1st, resigning amid ongoing efforts to fire him, and waiving his rights to a hearing that was set for Monday October 5th.
Chairman of the Home's Board of Trustees, Kevin Jourdain, said the Oct. 5th meeting has now been canceled, and that the Board of Trustees is looking forward to a "thoughtful and robust search process to fill this critical leadership position," MassLive reports.
"The Board of Trustees will seek a candidate who is highly qualified and able to lead the facility to its full potential to provide our veterans with the outstanding care they so richly deserve," Jourdain said in a statement Friday.
Last week, a Grand Jury returned ten federal indictments each against Walsh and David Clinton, the Home's former medical director, in connection with the Home's COVID-19 outbreak, which claimed dozens of veterans' lives.
Attorney General Maura Healey said the leadership's fatal decision to combine wards at the Home, and cram some veterans into a dining room, was a criminal act.
"The beds of these veterans in the dining room were just a few feet apart from each other," said Healey. "And next to the room were confirmed positive residents were located."
On June 24th, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and Governor Charlie Baker fired Bennett, the same day Boston attorney Mark Pearlstein released his independent report on the outbreak.
Pearlstein's report found that the Home's leadership team made several critical errors before and during the pandemic response, including either ignoring or failing to properly implement most of the guidance from the Department of Public Health, the VA, and the Center for Disease Control, on how to prepare and protect residents form the spread of COVID-19.
While Bennett was fired, Clinton and Francisco Ureña, Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services, both resigned before Pearlstein's report was released.
Bennett initially filed in a complaint in court that sought to delay the trustees' meeting about on his employment status, and he later amended it to challenge Baker's termination of his employment.
Last month, a judge ruled Bennett's firing was invalid, and that only the trustees have the authority to fire the Superintendent. As MassLive reports, court record show the suit over the firing has now been dismissed.
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