Massachusetts veterans’ home superintendent finalists named

HOLYOKE, Mass. (AP) — The next leader of the Massachusetts veterans care facility at which nearly 80 residents died after contracting the coronavirus will be selected from among two finalists.

Rick Holloway, administrator for the Idaho State Veterans Home in Boise, Idaho, and Robert Engell, administrator for the Overlook Masonic Health Care Center in Charlton, are scheduled to be interviewed Tuesday evening by the 11-member search committee put together to select a new superintendent for the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.

The committee will formally vote on their top choice on Thursday, Masslive.com reported.

The state-run facility’s former superintendent, Bennett Walsh, was first suspended and later resigned after 76 residents died last spring after contracting COVID-19. A 77th resident died of the disease in December.

It was one of the deadliest virus outbreaks at a long-term care facility in the nation.

An investigation by a former federal prosecutor hired by Gov. Charlie Baker found that management at the home made several “utterly baffling” decisions that allowed the disease run rampant.

Bennett and the home’s former medical director have pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence charges connected to the deaths.

The state plans on building a new $400 million facility to replace the current building.

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