Dr. David Torchiana, a cardiac surgeon known simply as "Torch" among colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), will be the next CEO of Partners HealthCare.
He will take charge of the state's largest employer next month. The current CEO, Dr. Gary Gottlieb, will move to his new role as CEO at Partners In Health a bit earlier than expected.
Torchiana assumes control of Partners at a particularly turbulent time. Last week, a judge rejected an agreement that would have let Partners expand, adding at least three more hospitals, in exchange for limits on the number of employed physicians and the prices it could charge.
Partners had been working to acquire South Shore Hospital since 2012 and announced a bid for two hospitals owned by Hallmark Health in late 2013.
There is no word yet on whether Torchiana and the Partners board plan to revive those acquisition plans. Attorney General Maura Healey has said she would sue to block the addition of South Shore to the Partners network, but she has not made the same threat regarding Hallmark.
"Dr. Torchiana possesses the instincts and the political savvy to be an outstanding leader for Partners," said Edward Lawrence, chairman of the Partners board, in a statement late Wednesday, after members approved Torchiana in a unanimous vote. Lawrence added that the new CEO will "be a leader who provides stability and lends a voice of assurance that Partners HealthCare wants to help address the challenges and be part of the solution."
"We want to be constructive participants in the ongoing public conversation about the future of health care including quality, cost and access," Torchiana said in the statement from Partners.
Insiders at Partners said the decision about who would replace Gottlieb came down to Torchiana, who runs the more-than-2,000-member physicians group at Mass General, and the hospital's president, Dr. Peter Slavin. Some suggested Slavin was reluctant to leave the helm of the prestigious hospital. Dr. Betsy Nabel, the president at Brigham and Women's Hospital, was thought be in the running early on, but it wasn't the Brigham's turn. The job of running Partners has shifted from the Brigham to MGH with each successive CEO since the two hospitals formed the Partners network in 1994.
Torchiana graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1981. He completed residencies at MGH and joined the department of surgery in 1989.