Trustees of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home have tapped a veterans’ home administrator in Idaho to serve as the next superintendent of the Holyoke facility, where dozens of aging veterans died from COVID-19 last year in a catastrophe that prompted criminal indictments against two former officials.
Trustee Isaac Mass confirmed Friday via email that the board had selected Rick Holloway, current administrator of the Idaho State Veterans Home in Boise, to run the Holyoke facility. Holloway’s appointment still has to be finalized by Governor Charlie Baker.
The Baker administration, asked for comment Friday, said state officials are pleased the trustees have voted to appoint a new superintendent, and that officials will work to “onboard” Holloway as soon as possible.
His selection was first reported by Masslive.com.
Holloway has worked as the administrator of the Boise home since July 2016, according to his LinkedIn profile, and he also serves on the Board of Governors for Shriners Hospitals for Children - Portland in Portland, Ore.
He holds an undergraduate degree in healthcare administration and management from Idaho State University, as well as a master’s in hospital administration from the University of Minnesota, the profile says.
Holloway also volunteered as a command pilot for Angel Flight West, a nonprofit that provides free flights to medical patients seeking treatment for serious health issues, since 2014, according to his LinkedIn.
In September, two former officials of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home were indicted on criminal neglect charges stemming from what prosecutors called the “horrific circumstances” that claimed the lives of scores of veterans who contracted COVID-19 at the state-run facility.
An independent report released last June found that leaders at the home made “utterly baffling” mistakes in responding to a devastating coronavirus outbreak at the facility in March of 2020.
In the most glaring failure to contain the virus, management merged two locked dementia units on March 27, a decision investigators described as a catastrophe. The report called the conditions in the combined unit “deplorable” with insufficient amounts of morphine and comfort medications to tend to dying veterans.
The decision meant 40 veterans were crowded into a space designed to hold 25, providing what the report called the “opposite of infection control.” A recreational therapist who was instructed to help with the move said she felt like she was “walking [the veterans] to their death,” the report said.
One staff member said she “will never get those images out of my mind — what we did, what was done to those veterans,” and thought: “My God, where is the respect and dignity for these men?”
After the units were consolidated, the death toll accelerated at an alarming rate, a surge the home’s leadership partially anticipated, the report found.
Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.