Dozens of Holyoke Soldiers’ Home employees file lawsuit against former leaders of facility

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Dozens of employees of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home have filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging leaders at the facility had complete disregard for human life during the deadly COVID-19 outbreak there.

At least 76 veterans died at the home died, another 84 tested positive, and 80 employees also caught the virus.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of dozens employees alleges that leadership at the facility, including former Superintendent Bennett Walsh, former Medical Director David Clinton, former Chief Nursing Officer Vanessa Lauziere, former Infectious Disease Nurse Vanessa Gosselin, and former Assistant Director of Nursing Celeste Surreira, made “a series of criminally catastrophic decisions that led to the slow, agonizing, and preventable deaths.”

The lawsuit states that employees were forced to continue working as they showed symptoms of COVID, and even after they had tested positive. The employees allege the leaders of the Soldiers’ Home denied them access to proper PPE.

A report released last year following an investigation into the deadly outbreak found that two dementia units were combined together in a dining room, resulting with even more veterans testing positive and dying from the virus.

Walsh has denied this. In the lawsuit, though, employees claim that they are still traumatized from what they saw in the dining room, and suffer from PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other serious mental health issues.

This is the second lawsuit filed against leadership of the Soldiers’ Home. Family members of veterans who were in the home at the time of the outbreak filed a lawsuit last year.

Walsh and Clinton have been criminally charged in connection to the COVID-19 outbreak at the Soldiers’ Home. They are both facing charges of criminal neglect.

22News contacted a representative for former Superintendent Bennett Walsh. At this time, we have not heard back.

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