SPRINGFIELD (CBS) – The attorney for Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh says his client kept state officials informed about how the coronavirus was impacting the facility.
“For anyone to suggest that he covered up, concealed or tried to hide a public health crisis affecting the veterans he was committed to serve, is a slander on his good name,” said Attorney William Bennett.
Bennett held a news conference Tuesday In Springfield saying documents between Walsh and the state will prove he acted quickly and requested the National Guard’s help.
“I have waited for state officials to acknowledge that he did indeed request the National Guard and that the filing informed officials of the circumstances,” said Attorney William Bennett.
Bennett said his client sent an email to the secretary of veterans affairs on March 22, informing him a patient tested positive for coronavirus.
“Walsh also notified state officials that five other veterans were symptomatic that their samples had been obtained for testing,” said Bennett said.
Ninety-two veteran residents at the home have died, 76 tested positive for Covid-19.
Laurie Mandeville Beaudette is grieving the loss of her father Jim, a Navy vet who recently died at the Holyoke home.
“Where are the answers for our loved ones that had to die because of this virus and because of the poor managerial decisions?” Mandeville Beaudette said. “It’s appalling. There’s so much blood on their hands.”
Gov. Charlie Baker said what happened is a tragedy. “We hired first assistant Mark Pearlstein within two days of being notified about what happened there to do an in-depth investigation,” Gov. Baker said. “I’m uncomfortable speaking to the specifics of this until he finishes his report.”
The U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office are also both investigating.
“Hopefully we get answers we need them, we need them badly,” said veterans advocate Steve Connor.
Veterans advocate Steve Connor is hoping the three separate investigations prevent any further tragedies.
“What I’m hoping is that they find out who made what choices and why so that they don’t do it again,” said Connor.