BOSTON (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has released its findings after investigating issues at the Soldiers’ Home at Holyoke between May 2016 and February 2020.
The report targets the leadership, management, and oversight at the Home.
The OIG began an investigation in 2019 after receiving a complaint regarding former Superintendent Bennett Walsh. The report found that the state and Home’s Board of Trustees failed to follow the protocols in appointing a new superintendent, that the position was beyond Walsh’s capabilities, and that he created a hostile work environment.
The report also says that the state governing agencies did not address complaints made by employees and senior management at the Home about Walsh. When the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EHS) eventually did two investigations of Walsh, the investigations were flawed and biased in favor of him.
The OIG’s report offers recommendations for improvements to management and oversight at the Home including the Department of Veterans Services (DVS) become a cabinet-level department with a Secretary that has direct authority over the Superintendent of both the Holyoke and Chelsea homes, and requires the Superintendents to be an experienced licensed nursing home administrators.
You can read the full report below:
According to records, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Board of Trustees did not follow protocol when appointing Walsh.
Despite multiple investigations surrounding Walsh, Inspector General Glen Cunha told 22News executive officials never took any action.
“They were flawed and biased in favor of him; they hired the executive coach for Him. And they just extended his engagement despite no improvements, no improvement in his management and leadership the EHS officials bare the primary responsibility for this failure,” said Inspector General Cunha.
The steps now being taken to enforce ideal care and effective leadership and oversight are:
- Appointing a cabinet-level secretary, to oversee the management of the superintendent.
- Requiring Superintendents to have proper licensing and extensive management experience.
- And establishing an ombudsperson to allow confidential reporting.
The inspector general’s office is also planning to release a separate report in the future, detailing the financial abuses which were also happening in the Holyoke Home.
22News contacted Bennet Walsh’s attorney and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees on this matter but we have not heard back at this time. This story is still developing and 22News will continue to update this story as more information is released.