Care New England's demand for CEO's job botched Lifespan, Brown merger, governor says

The governor of Rhode Island revealed a proposed combination of Providence-based Care New England Health System, Lifespan and Brown University fell through because of demands that CNE's CEO stay on and lead the transaction, according to a letter obtained by the Providence Journal.

In the Aug. 9 letter to CNE's board chairman, Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo wrote: "It is unfortunate for Rhode Island that the CNE board held as a condition of your continued engagement in the process that [CNE CEO James Fanale, MD] be installed as the CEO of the merged entity, and that he lead the transition."

Ms. Raimondo's office confirmed sending the letter that was obtained by editors at the Providence Journal. In response to the letter, Providence-based Lifespan President and CEO Timothy Babineau, MD, along with Lifespan's board chairman, told the publication, "Regrettably, the letter speaks for itself."

In its response to the letter, CNE said it "takes seriously its legal obligation to adhere to the non-disclosure agreement entered into with all parties during the course of the merger discussions this summer," and would not "engage in any specific discussion covered by that agreement."

CNE expanded to the Providence Journal: "When Care New England announced it was withdrawing from tri-party discussions this summer, we did not believe such an arrangement would provide for the needs facing our system. Further, through the direction of CNE's executive leadership, and much hard work by our dedicated staff, CNE has realized an important financial turnaround over the course of the last 24 months, refined its strategic focus, as well as witnessed a dramatic shift in employee morale and engagement."

CNE announced July 16 that its board voted to withdraw from merger talks with Lifespan and Brown University, also in Providence.

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