Lifespan senior leadership team undergoing major changes

Restructuring comes only a few months after new president and CEO takes helm

By: - April 14, 2023 3:16 pm

Lifespan President & CEO took over Rhode Island’s largest health system at the beginning of 2023. He previously served as president of Mass Eye and Ear and president of Mass General Brigham Integrated Care. (Photo courtesy of Lifespan)

PROVIDENCE – The state’s largest health system has announced a major leadership change with the sudden departure of the president in charge of both Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

“The healthcare of 10, 20, 30 years from now is going to look much different than it does today,” Lifespan President & CEO John Fernandez said in an emailed statement. 

“This means different ways of structuring, delivering, and supporting (i.e., funding) patient care. Our organization needs to evolve to adapt to the changing and challenging healthcare landscape to help us to better serve our patients and position us for future success.”

Fernandez has assumed the role of interim president of Rhode Island Hospital, succeeding Saul Weingart.

Weingart had served as president of Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro since 2021 until stepping down, effective immediately. 

Lifespan also confirmed in an email Friday the retirement of Steven Lampert as president of Lifespan Physician Group Inc. The physician network includes over 800 providers in primary care, psychiatry and behavioral health, women’s health, urgent care and specialty services including cardiology, gastroenterology and ophthalmology.

Lifespan spokeswoman Kathleen Hart said in an email that Fernandez intends to focus on long-term planning that anticipates future demand and needs to improve the quality of patient care.  

“Lifespan’s amazing employees continue to be nimble in adapting to shifting labor markets and demands, and I am so thankful for their commitment to our patients and the future success of our organization,” Fernandez said. “They lead with compassion and kindness, and I am so proud to serve alongside them.” 

Fernandez took the helm of Lifespan at the beginning of the year after the departure of Timothy Babineau at the end of May 2022. Babineau stepped down after a proposed merger between Lifespan and Care New England was rejected by Attorney General Peter Neronha and federal regulators in February that year. 

Lifespan’s amazing employees continue to be nimble in adapting to shifting labor markets and demands, and I am so thankful for their commitment to our patients and the future success of our organization.

– John Fernandez, president & CEO of Lifespan

Officials had no comment on the date for Lampert’s retirement. A search is under way for his replacement as well as for the person to take on a new role created in the wake of Weingart’s departure.

The 719-bed Rhode Island Hospital is the state’s only Level 1 Trauma Center and the workplace for nearly 8,000 employees. (Photo courtesy of Lifespan)

“Lifespan is restructuring its senior leadership team and the changes include establishing the position, Chief of Hospital Operations and President of Rhode Island and Hasbro Children’s Hospital,” Rhode Island Hospital spokeswoman Kelly Brennan said in an email. “We will conduct a national search for this position.”

Ambiguity and the future of health care

Having one president for both Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro makes sense, said Robert Hackey, a professor of health sciences at Providence College who studies hospital regulation.

But Hackey called Lifespan’s emphasis on finding a health care model of the future is something of “a head scratcher.”

“If Lifespan has a sense of that, it’s not clear what changes in the coming decades they are going to reconfigure themselves to meet,” Hackey added.

Rhode Island Hospital United Nurses and Allied Professionals Local 5098, the union which  represents 2,500 nurses, therapists, technologists, and others in the system, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


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Kevin G. Andrade
Kevin G. Andrade

Kevin G. Andrade previously covered education, housing and human services for Rhode Island Current.