The legislature should require the superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers’ House to be a licensed nursing home administrator, elevate the veteran services secretary to the cabinet, create a paid advocate position in the homes of the two soldiers administered by state and impose a bag of chains of command protocols and training requirements, concluded a group of lawmakers after reviewing the deadly outbreak of COVID-19 that affected the facility last year.
In a comprehensive report blaming the Baker administration for not addressing poor leadership and leaving key positions unfulfilled, a special committee set up to investigate the tragedy punctuated its findings with a long list of recommended legislative actions.
Like the June 2020 report by former U.S. Attorney Mark Pearlstein, the committee’s investigation found glaring shortcomings in the decision-making of former superintendent of the House of Holyoke Soldiers Bennett Walsh. which led to the deadly outbreak and its preparation for work.
Lawmakers wrote in their summary, provided to reporters Monday before the final vote to publish the report on Tuesday, that Pearlstein’s report “generated more questions than answers for the committee.”
“Therefore, the conclusions presented to you focus on both the and the cause of this tragedy,” committee chairmen, Rep. Linda Dean Campbell of Methuen and Sen. Michael Rush of Joint said in a joint statement. West Roxbury. “They highlight how the existing government structures at the time created a perfect storm for this COVID outbreak to become a tragedy.”
The group wondered why Walsh remained in his position for years, despite the apparent awareness between Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and former Veterans Services Secretary Francisco Urena over issues during his tenure.
They concluded that a “rupture of communication” between Walsh, Urena, Sudders and Gov. Charlie Baker “contributed substantially to the tragedy.” The committee also found that the facility had already been in a precarious position before COVID-19 arrived due to several broader issues.
Among them were “serious short-term and long-term staffing problems,” according to lawmakers who contributed to the unfortunate decision to combine two dementia units at the start of the outbreak.
In their report, lawmakers listed 14 important conclusions and recommendations. His suggestions include the need for the governor instead of the boards of directors appointed by the superintendents of the soldiers’ house, the launch of a hotline for staff and family to report their concerns, and the transformation. of the Holyoke facility in a facility of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, such as the Chelsea Soldiers’ House.