Brown University To Retain R.I. Affilation, Mass-Based Partners HealthCare Agrees

Aug 7, 2018

Brown University will continue its affiliation with Care New England even if Rhode Island’s second-largest health system is taken over by Massachusetts-based Partners HealthCare.

Brown’s affiliation is part of an agreement the organizations announced Tuesday to ensure that Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School continues as the primary research and teaching partner for Care New England.

Partners signed an agreement last January to acquire Care New England, which operates three hospitals – Women & Infants, Butler Hospital and Kent Hospital -- where Brown has longtime academic medical affiliations.

Brown’s president, Christina Paxson, had raised concerns that if Partners acquired Care New England it would shift research, academics and specialty care from Rhode Island to Boston. Partners’ Massachusetts hospitals – including Brigham & Women’s Hospital – are affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

“That’s been my major priority: is to make sure that Rhode Island maintains and even grows its strengths in these areas,’’ Paxson said in a phone interview Tuesday. “And I’m very pleased with the direction that we’re moving in.”

Under a  so-called memorandum of understanding, Brown’s president would serve on Care New England’s board of directors, and the dean of Brown’s medical school would sit on any academic and research subcommittees of the board.

The Partners-Care New England deal requires approval by federal regulators as well as state regulators in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The parties have not yet submitted their plans to regulators.

Partners and Care New England said they also will continue to discuss a partnership with Lifespan, Rhode Island’s largest health system, with which Brown also is affiliated.

The United Nurses and Allied Professionals Union, which represents more than 1,200 nurses and other employees at Kent Hospital, said in a statement that it remains “cautiously optimistic” about the potential Partners deal.