Brighton hospital gets new president

Marlborough chief to head St. Elizabeth’s

John Polanowicz takes over in May. John Polanowicz takes over in May.
By Robert Weisman
Globe Staff / April 6, 2011

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Steward Health Care System yesterday named John Polanowicz as president of St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, the largest Steward hospital, with 291 beds and about 2,000 employees.

Polanowicz’s hiring set in motion a series of other executive moves within Steward. Current St. Elizabeth’s president John Holiver will take over as president of the chain’s Norwood Hospital, while the current Norwood president, Margaret Hanson, will become vice president of hospital integration at Steward’s new corporate offices in downtown Boston.

Steward has now replaced the presidents of four of its six Catholic hospitals since the start of this year, building a new leadership team for chief executive Ralph de la Torre.

The holding company was formed by New York private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management last year to run the six Caritas Christi Health Care hospitals it bought in eastern Massachusetts. Those hospitals, once owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, were converted from nonprofit to for-profit status under Steward, though they have retained their Catholic identity.

Polanowicz, 48, a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point with a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University, has been the president of Marlborough Hospital — part of the UMass Memorial Health Care system in central Massachusetts — since 2003.

In an interview, Polanowicz said he took the St. Elizabeth’s job because he is excited about Steward’s efforts to build a well-run and high-quality community health care system. He will take the reins early next month.

“The model for community hospitals under an accountable care organization is a great model,’’ Polanowicz said. “I want to drive that clinical and quality agenda.’’

Polanowicz said the community hos pital model being pioneered by Steward has the potential to be copied in other parts of the country.

Steward in January tapped Bill Walczak, chief executive of Codman Square Health Center, to be president of its other Boston hospital, Carney Hospital in Dorchester. It also hired Jeffrey Liebman, who led the Beth Israel Deaconess Healthcare campus in Needham, to be president of Steward’s Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton.

In addition to St. Elizabeth’s, Carney, Norwood, and Good Samaritan, Steward owns Saint Anne’s Hospital in Fall River and Holy Family Hospital in Methuen. It is awaiting state regulatory approval of agreements to buy Merrimack Valley Hospital in Haverhill, Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer, and Morton Hospital and Medical Center in Taunton. And it has signed a letter of intent to acquire Saints Medical Center in Lowell.

Robert Weisman can be reached at