New president, ominous signs at Carney Hospital

The owners of Carney Hospital this week appointed a new person to run Dorchester’s only hospital. But, in doing so, they also sent ominous signals about the tone and direction of the Carney operation — signals that the wider community and our political leadership in particular must confront swiftly.

Andrew Davis, who has been tapped to lead the hospital by the Steward Health Care System, replaces Bill Walczak, a proven leader and innovator whose abrupt departure on April 13 has not been adequately explained by Steward’s executive team. Walczak is a respected community leader in Dorchester and his vision for the Carney Hospital included keeping it as a full-service hospital, with expanded services for family medicine and maternity.

Walczak’s sacking by the Steward team demands a full and public airing by Ralph de la Torre, the CEO of the system and the key person behind transitioning Carney from a private, non-profit institution to its present model as a for-profit satellite in the budding Steward empire. De la Torre is the person who wooed Walczak away from Codman Square, where Walczak had built one of the region’s premier health centers over the last 30 years. De la Torre’s failure to explain why Steward has pulled the rug out from under Walczak after 14 months shows a lack of respect for him, but even more so for the broader community.

It is also disappointing that members of the volunteer board that oversees this community asset have refrained from speaking publicly about what has happened at the Carney in recent weeks. Their reticence, which several have told us is fostered by a fear of reprisals from the Steward brass, speaks volumes about the callous corporate culture that now looms over this key neighborhood institution. Carney and its neighbors deserve better from our leaders who have been given the privilege of sitting at the table on our behalf.

The folks at Steward may think that their ownership of Carney’s campus entitles them to act with impunity in their decision-making. They will find out quickly that such a posture will win them no good will in this community, which regards this hospital as far more than another stock in their portfolio.
 Ralph De la Torre and his managers have a lot of explaining to do.

– Ed Forry

Make a date: Florian Hall Friday night

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester (BGCD, formerly the Marr Club) will benefit from a fundraiser on Friday night at Florian Hall beginning at 7 p.m., all organized by folks with deep roots in the neighborhood.

The event will feature Dru Errico, “Boston’s Best DJ,” with dancing, cocktails, silent and public auctions, and raffles, with all proceeds to benefit programs at BGCD along with the Trooper Paul Barry Family Foundation. The Rodman Ride for Kids will provide a 10 percent match to all the evening’s proceeds.

The Trooper Paul Barry Family Foundation was formed in loving memory of the late Dorchester native who lost in life in the line of duty, leaving behind his young wife and seven small children.

His widow, Maryellen, and the Barry family formed the foundation to provide support to children in their native neighborhood.

There’s sure to be a great turnout for the event Friday night; If you can’t get to Florian, tax-deductible contributions can be sent to the Trooper Paul Barry Family Foundation P.O Box 648 Franklin, Ma 02038.

– Ed Forry
 (This editorial contains a small revision from an earlier-posted version to correct a typographical error.)


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