Boston Medical Center CEO to head up Massachusetts' HHS

Kate Walsh, CEO of Boston Medical Center Health System, is headed to lead Massachusetts' health department, with her appointment announced Jan. 25 by Gov. Maura T. Healey.

Ms. Walsh's new title will be Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, according to a news release from the governor's office shared with Becker's. It is the largest secretariat in state government, made up of 12 agencies, in addition to the MassHealth health plan program.

Ms. Walsh has led Boston Medical Center Health System as CEO since 2010. Boston Medical Center is a private, nonprofit, 639-bed academic medical center as the primary teaching affiliate of the Boston University School of Medicine. Approximately 55 percent of BMC's patients are covered by Medicaid or Massachusetts' Health Safety Net; 25 percent are covered by Medicare, according to the American Hospital Association.

Recently, in 2021, Ms. Walsh established BMC Health System's Health Equity Accelerator — an initiative to eliminate gaps in life expectancy and quality of life among different races and ethnicities. The effort is in addition to the system's social determinants of health programs, including putting $6.5 million over five years into affordable housing and installing a farm on the roof of one hospital to send patients home with fresh produce. 

Before Boston Medical Center, Ms. Walsh served as executive vice president and COO of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston for five years

"Kate Walsh is exactly the leader Massachusetts needs for this moment in healthcare," the governor said in a statement. "She has a proven track record of delivering results on health equity, affordability and behavioral health, while also addressing social determinants of health like food and housing insecurity. She will bring an innovative and compassionate approach to the office that centers the needs of patients and providers."

In a statement, Ms. Walsh said she is honored to accept the leadership appointment.

"This is a critical moment for our state, as we continue to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, widening health disparities, skyrocketing healthcare costs and a devastating behavioral health crisis," Ms. Walsh said. "Together, we will work to advance racial health equity, address affordability, spur innovative solutions to our health care challenges, and ensure that people live healthy lives." 

Ms. Walsh succeeds Massachusetts' longest serving health and human services secretary, Marylou Sudders, who retired Jan. 5. She held the position since 2014.

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