The Idaho veterans’ home administrator chosen to serve as the new superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, where dozens of aging veterans died in a COVID-19 outbreak last year, has decided not to take the job, citing a family issue, he said Friday night.
Rick Holloway, administrator of the Idaho State Veterans Home in Boise, was announced as the new head of the Holyoke facility by its trustees early last month. He made the decision not to accept the job after a “significant family issue” arose recently, Holloway said in an interview.
“It was probably the most heart-wrenching decision I’ve had to make in my life,” he said. “It’s something I really wanted to do. The facility is a terrific facility.”
Holloway said he must stay in Idaho for the time being and would be unable to take over the job “for at least a few months,” and he didn’t feel it was appropriate to ask the veterans to wait for new leadership at the facility.
“I was looking forward to it,” Holloway said of the job. “I’ve done these kinds of turnarounds before, and this facility is one, I know, I could turn it around and get it where it needs to be. … I hope they get a person who would have the dedication I had to make that work.”
A spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services confirmed that Hollloway had turned down the job.
“We will work with the Board of Trustees to reopen the search for a qualified Superintendent for the Home,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.
In September, two former officials at the soldiers’ home were indicted on criminal neglect charges stemming from what prosecutors called the “horrific circumstances” that claimed the lives at least 76 veterans who contracted COVID-19 at the state-run facility, the Globe previously reported.
An independent report released last June found that leaders at the home made “utterly baffling” mistakes in responding to a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility in March 2020.