HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home, whom the state placed on paid administrative leave earlier this week, is speaking out.
Bennett Walsh released a statement to Western Mass News on Wednesday.
Walsh was placed on leave after several residents at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home died, with many of those people testing positive for COVID-19.
Walsh's full statement appears below:
"I am filled with grief and sorrow for all the Veterans who have died and I extend my sincere sympathies to their families.
Governor Baker has stated that he will review all the facts to determine everything that happened at the Soldiers Home. I am grateful that he will do so and I look forward to participating in that review. During this crisis all our decisions were informed by the available CDC and DPH guidelines on COVID-19.
At no time did I, or anyone on my staff, hide, conceal or mislead anyone regarding the tragic impact of the virus and it would be outrageous for anyone to even think of doing such a thing.
I was notified that a Veteran had tested positive for the COVID-19 for the first time on Saturday night March 21. The next day my staff called the family of every veteran at the Soldiers Home to inform them that a veteran had tested positive for the Coronavirus. Our focus then, and always, was on the veterans and their families.
Thereafter we provided regular updates to state officials about the number of tests and the results of the testing. We were all frustrated that the test results were often not available for 3 or 4 days and there was a delay between the time of death and confirmation of the presence of the Coronavirus. I regret any uncertainty that such delays produced.
I thank the staff for their dedication and hard work on behalf of our veterans and I again extend my sympathy to those who have lost a loved one. I look forward to the end of the crisis in the days ahead."
Val Liptak, who served as CEO of Western Massachusetts Hospital in Westfield, has been tapped to lead the Soldiers' Home in the interim.
On Wednesday, Gov. Baker announced that he has named a Boston-based attorney to lead an independent investigation into the situation at the Soldiers' Home.
Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have more information as it becomes available.