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Steward CEO staying, despite home up for sale

Under its agreement with state regulators, Cerberus Capital Management soon will be free to sell its 11-hospital Steward Health Care System, fueling speculation about the company’s plans. The talk among hospital executives intensified this month when Steward Chief Executive Dr. Ralph de la Torre put his seven-bedroom West Newton Hill home up for sale.

The house is well-known in Democratic circles: De la Torre hosted President Obama there in October 2010 for a fundraiser that netted $900,000 for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Neighbors gathered outside to witness the presidential visit, while Obama spoke to 75 supporters inside a vaulted-ceiling room with a massive flagstone fireplace.

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That same month, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced that she had reached an agreement with Cerberus, allowing it to buy the Catholic Caritas Christi Health Care system. It included a provision that the company could not close or sell the hospital for three years, a condition that is set to expire in November.

So when de la Torre listed his house Sept. 3 for more than $6 million, health care leaders took notice.

After I called Steward Monday to ask whether de la Torre was moving on, the house was pulled from the online real estate listings. Steward Spokesman Christopher Murphy said Tuesday that de la Torre has been “actively looking to move into Boston.’’ His house, he said, “is currently off the market during the process because he determined it would take time to find the right place in Boston.’’

Murphy said the plan by de la Torre, a former cardiac surgeon, to move into the city should lay the speculation to rest. “His role at Steward has not changed and there is no expectation for his role to change. Steward is not for sale and is not on the market.’’

Liz Kowalczyk can be reached at
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