Governor taps former Landmark Medical CEO to oversee embattled Rhode Island hospital

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Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee has chosen Richard Charest as director of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, the state agency that runs the embattled Eleanor Slater Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Cranston.

The governor has submitted Mr. Charest's name to state senators for their advice and consent.

"As our administration begins to address the long-standing challenges facing the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, we are pleased to have recruited a strong candidate who can help improve departmental policy, operations, staffing and patient care," Mr. McKee said in a May 26 news release. "We are confident that Richard's decades of experience in the healthcare field have prepared him to lead this department, which provides vital services and support to some of Rhode Island's most vulnerable populations."

Mr. Charest previously was president and CEO of Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, R.I. He also helmed the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island in North Smithfield. The governor said Mr. Charest has extensive turnaround experience and currently is providing consulting services on healthcare management and operations at Eleanor Slater Hospital.

Eleanor Slater Hospital has made headlines this year for financial and clinical quality issues. Most recently, Mr. McKee tapped Rhode Island's hospital association and Providence, R.I.-based Care New England to review the quality of patient care at the facility. A state assessment released May 17 also found that the hospital patient mix isn't in compliance with federal requirements.

As leader of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, Mr. Charest will manage more than 1,100 department employees and a more than $480 million budget for this fiscal year.

Rhode Island Health and Human Services Secretary Womazetta Jones has been serving as interim director since the April resignation of Kathryn Power, according to The Providence Journal.

Read the governor's full news release here.

Read the Providence Journal article here

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