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Goodbye George

October 21, 2011

After more than 13 years as the head of Rhode Island’s most powerful hospital network, George Vecchione is stepping down.

Lifespan made the official announcement today, but Vecchione will stay in his position until the end of 2012.

In a statement sent out to staff this week, Vecchione said he was initially attracted to Lifespan because of the high “quality of care delivered” at its hospitals and the “intelligence, experience and compassion” of those who worked there.

Since then, my initial impressions of the hospitals and the workforce have been confirmed, again and again. More than 13 years have passed, and the road has not always been easy, but you have made it a very gratifying experience. On so many occasions, I have been proud to be associated with you. In times of crisis, you have shown your compassion and resilience. In times of uncertainty, you have shown your determination to keep your heads down and get the job done. In times of triumph, you have shown how generous you are by sharing those triumphs with others.

George Vecchione is probably best known for his large compensation package. An investigation by  the Providence Phoenix found that the Lifespan CEO was the highest paid health care executive in New England, collecting around three million dollars in annual salary and benefits.

Tax forms uncovered by The Pulse revealed an even greater pay out in 2009– more than nine million dollars in salary, benefits, and retirement payments. Lifespan has always maintained that Vecchione is fairly compensated for his work.

But Vecchione wasn’t just a highly paid executive. He’ll also be remembered for turning around the finances of a hospital system that was in tough shape in 1998. Lifespan says it has added 2,000 full time employees under Vecchione’s leadership.

But Vecchione’s most public act was his attempt to merge Lifespan with Care New England. He saw the coming together of the two hospital systems as a necessary defense against losing business to Boston.

CNE and Lifespan spent more than three years filing paperwork and meeting with the public to assuage their fears of a system that would control 70% of the health care in Rhode Island. Eventually they abandoned the effort. Vecchione cited

The deteriorating financial condition of the state, significant increases in uncompensated care, the uncertainty of federal reimbursements for health care services and the accelerating pace of regional competition.

among the more pressing issues for the two hospital chains. It was the second time Lifespan and CNE tried and failed to apply for a merger.

Now Care New England has a new CEO who says he doesn’t think merger and affiliation “conversations are going to rigidly happen within state boundaries.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island also has a new leader. Rhode Island has a new Director of the Department of Health. With Vecchione leaving, we have a relatively new landscape for health care leadership in the state. What do you think will happen?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe Iadevaia permalink
    January 2, 2012 7:25 pm

    Going thru RI Hospital when my sister was in the hospital and seeing so few nurses makes this a disgrace. I cant imagine anyone making that much money in a non profit organization. Its a disgrace!

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