HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The head of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home has been placed on leave.

Mass. Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Dan Tsai said in a statement that Soldiers' Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh is on paid administrative leave effective immediately.

"It is imperative that the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home provide a safe environment for the veteran residents, and the dedicated staff who serve them," Tsai explained, adding, "We have also implemented an onsite clinical command team comprised of medical, epidemiological, and operational experts responsible for the comprehensive and rapid response to the outbreak of COVID-19."

Val Liptak, RN, the CEO of Western Massachusetts Hospital in Westfield, will assume administrative responsibility at the Soldiers' Home.

Tsai said that the enhancements will build upon state and federal protocols, work, and guidance, adding that "Today’s actions underscore the state’s commitment to our veterans and frontline health care employees during this unprecedented public health crisis," Tsai explained. 

Holyoke's mayor, Alex Morse also released remarks on the latest situation. 

In a statement released to Western Mass News, Mayor Morse says the City of Holyoke will be lowering the flags to half mast tomorrow to morn those affected in their community by the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Secretary Sudders and her team have agreed to provide the City with frequent updates as the situation at the Soldiers Home unfolds, and I aim to continue to update the public with what we learn. It is in large part thanks to the outreach of staff from the State-run facility to my office on Saturday that I was alerted to the growing issues at the Soldiers’ Home," Mayor Morse said. 

Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have more information as it becomes available.

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