Dismissal hearing held for ex-Holyoke Soldiers’ Home officials

Massachusetts News

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — The former superintendent and the former medical director of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home were in a Springfield courtroom Tuesday morning.

Former superintendent Bennett Walsh and former medical director Dr. David Clinton are charged with criminal neglect in connection to the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the nursing facility for veterans. They were in court Tuesday to get the criminal cases against them dismissed.

Defense attorneys argued Walsh and Clinton weren’t liable because they didn’t provide “primary care” for the residents and that exposure to COVID isn’t considered bodily injury. That led prosecutors to suggest they were shifting the blame for the outbreak onto lower-level employees.

“The suggestion is that by our analysis that we are somehow trying to shift the blame on the little people on the floor who did the hard work with the elders. Not at all. We don’t think anyone here should be held blamed criminally for any of this,” said defense lawyer Mike Jennings.

“There is simply no reason why the grand jury’s judgment that a supervisor that makes a decision that has a clear effect on the health of the elders cannot be held as a primary and sustain caregiver in that situation,” said prosecutor Kevin Lownds.

Some family members of deceased Soldiers’ Home veterans came to the hearing.

“I just hope they’re all held accountable, that the Commonwealth prevails with their charges,” said Laurie Maldenville, the daughter of a veteran that was a resident of the home who later died of COVID-19 at Holyoke Medical Center after being moved, she wears his ashes. “It’s really important for me his death cannot be in vain and neither can the other 77 plus.”

The COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home was one of the deadliest in the nation, with 77 resident veterans dead from the virus. A decision is expected to be made by the next hearing, scheduled for October 28.

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