The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs tapped a new director to run the state’s only veterans home.
Retired U.S. Army Col. John Lombardi began overseeing operations of Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, a long-term care and specialized nursing facility located in St. Mary’s County, on Wednesday.
Lombardi takes the reins months after the state chose a new health care service provider. Gov. Wes Moore’s administration fired the previous contractor over findings of longstanding abuse and neglect suffered by residents.
During a March spending board meeting, Gov. Wes Moore blasted former health care contractor HMR of Maryland LLC, calling the conditions cited in inspection reports “a moral failure of government.”
The fallout from Moore’s announcement cascaded into the 2023 General Assembly. Lawmakers, spurred by the reports and led by the Maryland Veterans Caucus, voted to pass reforms giving the legislature more oversight over the home’s operations. In the interim, Lombardi’s predecessor Maria Cariaso left in March. The administration accepted her resignation, according to a Moore spokesperson, but provided no reason for her departure.
The state spending board in May approved a contract with Georgia-based PruittHealth to provide nursing staff and specialized health care services for the 454-bed facility, despite the multistate operator’s troubled past.
After the May contract approval, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Woods called the move “a first step in a journey” to honor the commitments made to the veterans of Charlotte Hall Veterans Home and highlighted that, as of that time, 10 PruittHealth locations had been named “Best Nursing Home for 2022-23″ by U.S. News & World Report.
Lombardi recently served as president and interim CEO of Knollwood Life Plan Community, a 300-bed continuing care facility serving veterans, according to Dana Burl, veterans affairs department communications director. Knollwood is located in Washington, D.C., and operated by the nonprofit Army Distaff Foundation. Lombardi served on the Army Distaff Foundation’s board of directors from 2013-2017, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Efforts to reach Lombardi were unsuccessful.
“Col. Lombardi is an accomplished and experienced health care administrator with expertise in planning, directing, and improving medical operations,” Burl said.
Since 2004, Lombardi has served as president and chief executive officer of a Virginia-based company, A. Marshall & Associates LLC, according to Lombardi’s LinkedIn page. The description underneath the company name on Lombardi’s LinkedIn reads “strategic planning, health care administration and emergency preparedness and response and resilience.”
Lombardi served in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corp for 28 years and retired as a colonel, according to Burl’s statement. Lombardi has a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University in New York, where he studied history and sociology. He has a master’s in business administration from The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina.