Two former leaders of a Massachusetts home for aging veterans, where nearly 80 people have died from Covid-19, have been charged for their handling of the outbreak, the state’s attorney general said Friday, in what she says is believed to be the first U.S. criminal case brought nursing home staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Former Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh and former Medical Director David Clinton were indicted by a grand jury, Attorney General Maura Healey told reporters.
Each is charged with 10 counts, five counts of criminal neglect and five counts of serious bodily injury, and have yet to comment on the charges.
The charges come three months after a scathing independent report said “utterly baffling” decisions made by Walsh and other administrators allowed the virus to spread.
The first veteran tested positive March 17, but even though he had shown symptoms for weeks, staff “did nothing to isolate” him until he tested positive, the report found.
The Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division are investigating if officials violated residents’ rights by failing to provide proper medical care.
“They risked their lives from the beaches of Normandy, to some the jungles of Vietnam,” Healey said of the residents who died, “and to know that they died under the most horrific circumstances is truly shocking.”
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