To the editor:

The residents and veterans of Massachusetts are again fooled by Gov. Charlie Baker's duplicity when it comes to the subject of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, where multiple deaths have been linked to the coronavirus.

Bennett Walsh, superintendent of the Holyoke Solders’ Home, who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the home and the delivery of health care to its veterans, is sitting at home getting a paycheck. Meanwhile the secretary of veterans’ affairs, Francisco Urena, a decorated combat veteran with a proven record of service to the veteran community, is forced to resign.

The governor continues to sidestep the evidence in the 174-page, independent report led by former federal prosecutor Mark Pearlstein. The report documents the terrible conditions at the Soldiers’ Home and is reflective of the negligent behavior and incompetence of Walsh. As stated in Pearlstein’s report, the behavior of the superintendent is "utterly baffling from an infection-control perspective.

A disaster waiting to happen, Walsh’s poor administrative skills are reflective of his negligent behavior and incompetence, resulting in the resignation of his assistant director and the understaffing of the home’s personnel.

To compound his negligent behavior, remaining staff who were crucial to saving veterans’ lives would call in sick, a situation that would not exist if Walsh maintained a daily presence at the home.

Making the situation even worse was Walsh’s reticence, refusal to communicate with Urena and his cutting off the secretary’s requests for information regarding the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.

The governor should fire Walsh, not Urena.

Donald J. Silva


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