Media release

Foundation will lead independent effort to gather and share community input aimed at informing proposed Lifespan/Care New England hospital merger

The Rhode Island Foundation will coordinate an independent effort, of research and inclusive committee input, to inform the intentional community-building efforts of the proposed integrated academic health system.

“Our goal is to gather feedback and ideas from Rhode Islanders, including those who may not otherwise have a voice in this process. We’ve worked with Lifespan and Care New England and have been supportive of the idea of a locally-controlled integrated academic health system for many years."

- Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation

He continued, "We’re pleased to see the formal merger process moving forward. That said, the community’s voice must remain an integral part of both the planning around, and implementation of, the merged entity.”

The community input effort will be gathered by a broadly representative team. This committee will be a key voice in developing a robust public input process that will likely include public opinion research, convening community listening sessions to promote transparency and gather feedback, and inform decisions around future community investment and ongoing community accountability structures. This effort will supplement the regulatory approval process, to ensure intentionality around benefit for all. Across all of these activities, the Foundation and advisory committee will work to ensure an inclusive process where a broad range of voices and perspectives can be heard by and incorporated into feedback for Lifespan and Care New England.

The committee will include members of the Foundation-convened Long Term Health Planning Committee that developed the Health in Rhode Island plan. The group is co-chaired by Steinberg and Jane Hayward, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Health Center Association, and has set a 10-year vision where Rhode Island is the healthiest state in the nation, and where all Rhode Islanders have the opportunity to be in optimal health, to live, work and play in healthy communities, and to have access to high quality and affordable healthcare. The plan, and the broader work of the group, has an overarching focus on reducing racial and ethnic health inequities, which have been magnified and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In early 2020, the group’s work was endorsed in an Executive Order issued by former Governor Raimondo, and by both the Rhode Island House of Representatives and Rhode Island State Senate. Connecting these efforts provides the opportunity to work collaboratively in ensuring that, wherever possible, the planning around the proposed integrated academic health system is informed by, and aligns with, the priorities of the Health in Rhode Island plan.

“The proposed creation of an integrated academic health system for Rhode Island through the merger of Lifespan and Care New England could be a transformational step for Rhode Island’s health care delivery system. It is critical that there be a robust and independent process to gather input from the broader Rhode Island community, with particular intentionality around those communities that have experienced historical barriers to accessing care.”

- Jane Hayward, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Health Center Association

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $68 million and awarded a record $87 million in grants in 2020. Since its centennial five years ago, the Foundation has awarded more than $284 million in grants and has raised more than $328 million. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.