Steward taps North Carolina man for Carney presidency

Andrew DavisAndrew DavisA health care executive from North Carolina has been hired to take over as president and CEO of the Carney Hospital next month. Andrew Davis was introduced to the Dorchester Avenue hospital’s board at a private meeting on Monday.

Accompanying Davis were Ralph de la Torre, the chairman and CEO of the Steward Health Care System, which owns Carney Hospital, and Josh Putter, Steward’s chief operating officer.

Davis comes to Boston from his post as chief executive officer of Davis Regional Medical Center in Statesville, North Carolina, and chief executive officer of Sandhills Regional Medical Center in Hamlet, North Carolina. A Troy University (Alabama) graduate, he is a certified public accountant.

The Davis appointment comes after Bill Walczak, who was named the head of the hospital 14 months ago, abruptly parted ways with the company earlier this month.

After Davis was seen waiting to go into the meeting on Monday, the Reporter approached Keith Motley, chancellor of UMass Boston and head of Carney’s board, as he was leaving the boardroom in search of details about the session. Motley said he was a community volunteer and referred any questions to Steward.

On Tuesday, Davis met with several Dorchester lawmakers at the State House with local legislators still smarting over what had happened to Walczak

“Obviously Bill’s my friend and I’m upset about what happened there, but on the other hand, business has to go on and hopefully the new CEO can do a good job,” state Rep. Marty Walsh told the Reporter.

State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry also attended the State House meeting. “I was shocked just like everyone else on how the whole situation was handled,” she said of Walczak’s departure. “I was disappointed in how the whole thing played out.” Forry reported that Davis said he valued transparency and communication, two things that the legislator said have been “lacking” during the turnover at Carney.

State Sen. Jack Hart and City Councillor Frank Baker were also at the meeting with Davis.

“It was very positive,” Hart said. “It was very positive. We’re all invested in trying to see Carney succeed in the short term and in the long term.” Hart added: “We are admirers of Bill Walczak, all of the electeds, and we’re disappointed to see him move on. But I think there was just a parting of the ways with Steward and they decided to go in another direction.”

The circumstances behind Walczak’s departure remain unclear. A Steward spokesman initially said he had resigned. Walczak disputed that statement while not publicly talking about what happened behind the scenes and the spokesman backtracked, saying the decision to part ways was mutual.

Asked Tuesday night about Walczak’s exit, Mayor Thomas Menino said, “Bill is one of the great innovators we have when it comes to health care, especially with the health centers in our city.” But, he added, “The Carney needs a lot of retooling. I think Steward has to be willing to make those changes to make sure Carney stays a health care provider in that neighborhood.”

Menino said Steward gave a five-year commitment to the hospital. “I take them [at] their word,” he said. “We have to reinforce the Carney. We just can’t say ‘Keep the Carney open’ if it’s losing revenues. How do we change the delivery of health care there? Can we make it assisted living? Do we make it some other kind of service? I don’t know. I’m not a health care expert. But I think it has to change because there are so many options now in health care. It’s different today than when Carney was started many years ago. And their constituency has moved onto other locations.”

Asked if he had any advice for Davis, Walczak said yesterday, “I think it’s important for him to get to know the Dorchester community, the great and diverse community that it is.” Walczak praised the staff at the hospital, saying, “There’s a lot to work with at the Carney Hospital.”

In its press release announcing the Davis appointment, Steward’s Putter said, “Andrew is an experienced hospital leader with a strong track record of success. He is the ideal person to implement the Steward integrated care model in Dorchester and position Carney for the future.”

The release quoted Davis as saying, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join the talented and dedicated staff at Carney Hospital. I am looking forward to working with them to make Carney the hospital of choice for residents of Dorchester.”

Margaret Hanson, the former president of Norwood Hospital, assumed the title of interim president after Walczak’s departure. Davis will take over on May 7.

Carney was the first Catholic hospital in New England, moving from South Boston to its current location in 1953. It was long a part of a chain of six hospitals owned by the Archdiocese of Boston that was sold in 2010 to the New York-based private equity firm Cerberus.

Before he left, Walczak was mapping out the immediate future of the hospital. A document obtained by the Reporter  that was billed as the strategic plan for 2012 to 2015 stated, “The Carney Hospital is at a critical juncture at which it must now reestablish itself as a premier health care institution in Dorchester, or continue to slide toward obsolescence.” The document noted that while the Carney had “suffered significant losses in patient volume over the past generation, it is viewed by the greater Dorchester community as vital to the health of the community it serves.”

The plan, which was approved by a committee of the hospital’s board, but never voted on by the full board, called for increasing the number of primary care providers to 38 from 11 and the development of a new department of family medicine. Collaboration between Carney and Quincy Hospital, which Steward recently acquired, was also discussed as a possibility.

“The goal of a vibrant, innovative, profitable Carney Hospital is attainable through excellent management, the addition of services that meet community needs, and the creation of facilities which allow the services to grow,” the document said.