Medical Technology

Judge Indicts Veterans’ Home’s Veterans’ Home Deadly COVID-19 Outbreak

BOSTON (Reuters) – A Massachusetts judge has dismissed indictments against two former leaders of a home for veterans who were accused of criminal neglect for their part in handling a COVID-19 outbreak that killed 76 people.

The criminal case involving the former Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh and former Medical Director David Clinton was believed to be the first case to be brought in the nation-wide court system, relating to an outbreak at the U.S. nursing facility during the pandemic.

The case against the two men stemmed from a decision in March 2020 to combine two dementia units. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey stated put COVID-19 patients within a few feet of those without symptoms.

Both men were accused of “wantonly or recklessly” committing or permitting bodily injury, as well as five counts for abuse, neglect or mistreatment of an elderly or disabled person.

The charges centered on five veterans who Justice Edward McDonough in Hampden County Superior Court stated had already been exposed COVID-19 prior to the dementia units were combined.

“There was not enough reasonably reliable evidence to convince the grand jury that had the two dementia units not been joined, the medical condition of the five veterans would have been substantially different,” McDonough wrote.

He said the indictments required to be dismissed due to the lack of evidence to show that Walsh and Clinton fit the definition of “caretakers” under a state law governing the elder neglect allegations.

Michael Jennings, Walsh’s lawyer said that the case was still in the process of being appealed since the state has the option to appeal. Jillian Fennimore was Healey’s spokesperson and said that her office was looking at its legal options.

She stated that she was extremely disappointed by the ruling of today, especially for innocent victims and their families that were harmed by the defendants’ actions.

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