Soldiers’ Home board picks Holloway as superintendent

  • An ambulance arrives at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Monday, April 12, 2021

More than one year after the Soldiers’ Home’s last permanent superintendent was placed on administrative leave amid a COVID-19 crisis, the facility in Holyoke will soon have a new top leader.

The home’s board of trustees voted unanimously April 1 to select Rick Holloway of Idaho as the next Soldiers’ Home superintendent.

WBUR reported that the 62-year-old Holloway has been a licensed nursing home administrator for 30 years and dealt with an outbreak of COVID-19 at a facility in Boise, Idaho last fall where 56 residents tested positive and nine died.

The Baker administration must finalize the appointment.

Holloway is set to take over as the Legislature finishes its investigation into the deadly outbreak at the Soldiers’ Home and as the Legislature weighs a $400 million bill to construct a new facility.

Bennett Walsh, the last permanent superintendent who was placed on leave and then fired in the wake of the outbreak that led to the deaths of at least 76 veterans at the Soldiers’ Home, was not a licensed nursing home administrator. Board members and the Baker administration have since debated whether they should mandate that qualification for the next superintendent.

After Walsh was placed on leave in March 2020, Western Massachusetts Hospital CEO Val Liptak took over the facility on an interim basis followed by Michael Lazo, who was also not certified as a licensed nursing home administrator.