John Polanowicz

John Polanowicz – Secretary of Health and Human Services

John Polanowicz has extensive experience in healthcare, boasting a remarkable record of leadership and success.

He most recently served as President of St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, bringing with him extensive expertise on working within an innovative community health care system.

He was instrumental in positioning Steward as an accountable care organization to increase access and lower cost for patients. As Secretary, he will focus on Governor Patrick’s initiatives to eliminate youth violence, transform Massachusetts’ Children, Youth, and Families system into a family-centric model.

Early Life and Education

Early education experiences, from birth through age 8, shape a child’s lifelong learning capacity and behavior. Children who receive quality prekindergarten programs do better academically and experience fewer health issues as adults.

Early in a child’s development process, it is critical for them to have supportive environments and strong bonds with their parents and other adults. When these elements are missing, it can have an adverse effect on the physical, emotional and cognitive growth of the child.

Early education staff must understand how to embrace and extend a child’s family traditions and teachings in order to create an inclusive learning environment for all students. For instance, if vegetarian families practice giving thanks for their food on holidays, teachers can incorporate this practice into morning circle discussions and classroom celebrations.

Professional Career

John Polanowicz has extensive experience in healthcare leadership. He has held multiple executive positions, including Secretary of Health & Human Services for Massachusetts.

He has served as President of St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton since 2011.

West Point graduate and former Army Black Hawk pilot, Polanowicz is an accomplished leader with extensive expertise in large system and hospital management. Additionally, he possesses expertise in governmental oversight, strategic planning, organizational design and program integrity.

As Executive Vice President of Network, Insurance and Physician Operations at Steward, Polanowicz will have oversight over 700 physicians in the Steward Medical Group as well as 2,500 affiliated providers within the Steward Health Care Network. Furthermore, Polanowicz is accountable for Pioneer Accountable Care Organization operations and contracting services provided by Steward.

Achievements and Honors

John Polanowicz, who has lived in Northborough since 2011, has been appointed secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services by Governor Deval Patrick. He replaces Dr. JudyAnn Bigby who has held this post for nearly 10 years.

He joins the state government at a time of profound changes in health care provider operations. A West Point graduate and veteran of the U.S. Army, he served in a Blackhawk Assault Helicopter Company.

He previously served as President and CEO of Marlborough Hospital from 2003 to 2011. During that time, he improved patient care by creating new service lines, cultivating relationships with physician groups, and investing in emerging technologies. Furthermore, his leadership enabled a financial turnaround that saw five consecutive years of positive results.

Personal Life

State Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz oversees 15 state agencies with 22,000 employees, providing programming that assists infants, children, women, seniors and veterans. Furthermore, Polanowicz chairs the Governor’s Safe and Successful Youth Initiative.

When not at work, Polanowicz enjoys spending time with his wife Kathleen Polanowicz – a former Northborough selectman. They reside in Northboro and recently traveled to Washington D.C. for President Obama’s inauguration ceremonies.

Before becoming State Secretary of Health and Human Services, Polanowicz served as president of St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center – part of Steward Health Care system. He brings to the job experience working in an innovative community hospital system and an aptitude for positioning Steward as an accountable care organization.

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