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Healey fires head of Chelsea Soldiers’ Home

The firing comes amid criticism over Eric Johnson's management of the veterans' home since he became superintendent in 2020.

The embattled head of the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home has been fired after facing criticism over mismanagement, according to Gov. Maura Healey’s office.

Superintendent Eric Johnson’s termination was effective Thursday, The Boston Globe reported. Assistant Secretary of Veterans’ Homes and Housing Robert Engell has taken over the post as acting superintendent. 

The Chelsea Soldiers’ Home is a 200-bed state-run facility that provides shelter and medical care to military veterans. Johnson came under fire for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which claimed the lives of more than 30 veterans at the home. Critics said the veterans’ deaths could have been prevented had Johnson done a better job managing the outbreak. In addition to the fatalities, at least 40 other residents were infected with the virus. 

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“Governor Healey and her administration remain committed to protecting the health, safety, and wellbeing of our veterans,” Healey spokesperson Karissa Hand said following his firing, according to the Globe

Johnson had been in the role of superintendent since December 2020. He was put on paid leave in June 2022 after allegations of sexual harassment and bullying surfaced, but he returned to the job in October. 

Healey terminated Johnson a day after the Globe shed light on excessive overtime payments made to the home’s nursing director. The firing also came a week after Inspector General Jeffrey Shapiro sent a letter to now former Gov. Charlie Baker criticizing conditions at the home.

In response to Johnson’s termination, Massachusetts Nurses Association spokesperson Joe Markman said, “Eric Johnson’s firing is long overdue.”

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