The boards of the state’s two largest health care systems have voted in favor of moving toward a merger.
In a statement Wednesday, Care New England and Lifespan confirmed the two entities have “moved to the next step in their affiliation process” – one that has seen numerous starts and stops over the course of many years.
According to the joint statement, the “combined system would create a Rhode Island based, nonprofit academic medical center with Brown University.”
“The new system would include seven hospitals offering a full complement of specialty, women’s and children’s, and behavioral health, and visiting nurse services, research, and education,” the statement reads. “More than 21,000 employees would serve the people of Rhode Island and Southeastern New England, from prenatal care and delivery to elder care.”
The statement cites collaboration between Care New England and Lifespan during the pandemic, as well as a June announcement of the two systems’ intention to “study a more formal partnership.”
“By working together, Lifespan, Care New England, and Brown University can create a fully integrated academic healthcare system for the people of Rhode Island,” Lifespan president and CEO Timothy J. Babineau said in the statement. “Combining our investment in our physicians, clinical staff, researchers, technology and other health care staff will greatly help us continue to fulfill our mission of providing world-class health care to our patients, advancing medical discoveries and serving as a vital economic engine for our state.”
Care New England President and CEO James E. Fanale added: “After careful consideration, there is clear recognition of the value of a more formal relationship. Overall benefit, regarding the capabilities and reach of what is possible for the health care of our local communities, has been defined with a clear, high-level vision of what could be possible.”
“A unified academic medical center with Brown University, Lifespan, and Care New England has always been the best solution for health care in Rhode Island,” Christina H. Paxson, president of Brown University said in the statement. “I could not be more thrilled with this announcement. Capitalizing on the complementary strengths of our health care institutions with Brown University will make it possible to provide high-quality low-cost health care, attract and retain the best physicians, and grow our research enterprise while powering the Rhode Island economy.”
The two health care systems themselves at odds last year as Lifespan intensely opposed Care New England’s talks to join Massachusetts-based Partners HealthCare. Gov. Gina Raimondo then urged new talks between the two systems on a merger that included Brown, but those discussions ended without any agreement.