HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) — The state is charging both Superintendent Bennett Walsh and former Medical Director David Clinton with five counts of serious bodily injury and five counts of criminal neglect of an elder.
Attorney General Maura Healey said Walsh and Clinton are responsible for a decision on March 27 to consolidate two dementia units into one. The units combined 42 veterans, some allegedly positive with COVID-19, and others asymptomatic into a unit that accommodates 25.
22News spoke with Beth Lapointe whose 81-year-old father was one of those veterans. He survived but Lapointe believes Walsh and Clinton had no plan to protect veterans from this virus even though it was it their job.
“How could anyone make these decisions like that? So wrong such a wrong decision to put all these people in jeopardy,” said Lapointe. “That was their number-one job was to protect them from anything that could hurt them and they knew the virus was in the world, it was known. There was no concrete effort made to put a protocol in place to protect before the virus hit.”
The state alleges that this circumstance never should have happened and put veterans at a greater risk of death.
Walsh’s attorney, William Bennett, sent a statement to 22News saying Walsh is a “scapegoat” and that he could not have stopped the spread of the virus. Bennett added that he followed all state guidance and relied on medical professionals to do what was best for veterans.