Veterans Secretary Francisco Urena resigns
Report will be released soon on COVID-19 outbreak at Soldiers’ Home
SECRETARY OF VETERANS‘ Services Francisco Urena has resigned in advance of the release of a report investigating the coronavirus outbreak at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, according to multiple news reports.
Urena has come under increasing scrutiny for the outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home since last month, when documents released by Superintendent Bennett Walsh’s attorney showed that Urena knew about the veterans who both died and tested positive for COVID-19 immediately – days before Gov. Charlie Baker said he was alerted.
The Massachusetts chapter of Disabled American Veterans told CommonWealth at that time that they believe Urena should be fired.
Baker appointed an independent investigator, Mark Pearlstein, to investigate the outbreak. His report is expected soon.
He is a veteran who served in the US Marine Corps from 1998 to 2006. According to his LinkedIn profile, Urena earned a bachelor’s degree in history and legal studies from UMass Lowell in 2010, after earning an associate’s degree in political studies from Northern Essex Community College.Urena does not have experience in health care. WBUR reported in mid-May that the Legislature in 2016 created a new position of executive director of veterans homes and housing, in order to provide oversight of the Holyoke and Chelsea Soldiers’ Homes by someone with experience in health care management. But that position was never filled.
Since March 1, 76 veterans who tested positive for COVID-19 have died at the home.