HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The attorney for the embattled superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home is pushing back against that lawsuit being filed against his client and the facility’s administration.
William Bennett claims that Bennett Walsh never tried to conceal what was happening at the Soldiers’ Home amid the Coronavirus outbreak. In fact, he says he tried repeatedly to get help from Boston.
It’s considered one of the biggest nursing home COVID-19 outbreaks in the country; 76 veterans killed by the virus, 82 others sickened. The 22News I-Team capturing this video, early on during the outbreak, when the national guard was called in, to set up tents for triage and testing.
“This is about his good name, his character, and that’s why I’m here today,” said Bennett, Walsh’s attorney.
Now, nearly four months later, and a week after the family of one of those veterans who died at the Soldiers’ Home filed a $176-million lawsuit against Walsh and the facility’s administration, Walsh’s attorney is defending his client’s reputation once again.
“Mr. Walsh never tried to conceal any evidence, he and his staff regularly updated state officials about the coronavirus, and there was no coverup,” said Bennett. “The attack on his good name was false.”
The governor’s office released the findings of an independent investigation into the outbreak last month. It claims “substantial errors and failures by the home’s leadership that likely contributed to the death toll during the outbreak.”
The biggest mistake highlighted in that report – leadership’s decision to combine two locked dementia units. Walsh’s attorney said, that never happened.
Instead, using a large blue-print display of the Soldiers’ Home, Walsh’s attorney said each veteran were first assessed for symptoms, then separated into seven rooms, with four to six veterans in each room.
Walsh was placed on leave back in March and Governor Charlie Baker is moving to fire him.
The 22News I-Team filed freedom of information act requests to the Departments of Public Health, Veteran Services, and to the Executive office of Health and Human Services.
All three agencies have denied our requests.