The success of Rhode Island’s capital and that of Lifespan, the state’s largest hospital network and private employer, are clearly linked, says Dr. Timothy J. Babineau, president and CEO of Lifespan.
Babineau predicts that relationship will strengthen, despite the fact that it has not been “business as usual” for the hospital system, nor will it be going forward.
Lifespan in May announced more than 100 layoffs as part of a $100 million to $150 million cost-cutting move Babineau said was needed “to right size” operating expenses in response to declining reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid under health care reform.
PBN: What is Lifespan’s vision of its relationship with Providence?
BABINEAU: We understand our unique role in the capital city. We understand that the success of Lifespan and the success of Providence are linked. You can’t have a strong health care system without a strong Providence, and that’s one of the reasons we agreed to the to the Payment In Lieu of Taxes program. Particularly in Providence and the Knowledge District, Lifespan has been many things to all the people. … The current situation for health care is not going to be business as usual going forward. Our business is challenged. So, for all the things we have been able to do in the past, and like to do, we may not be able to do going forward. Many of the things we have done were done when the financial margins were a little larger.
PBN: How long will it take you to move ahead with plans the change the Coro Building into a designated research facility?
BABINEAU: We actually started this a couple of years ago. I moved what is Lifespan’s executive leadership from the Coro Building onto the Lifespan campus to free up research space. Of the 270,000 square feet, more than half is already dedicated to research. As we have more scientific recruitments, we plan to make the entire building research-focused.
PBN: How would you describe Lifespan’s participation in the Knowledge District?
BABINEAU: Lifespan has been an anchor tenant. What’s the lyric: “I liked country music before country music was in?” We were in that neighborhood long before people started calling it the Knowledge District. We’ve been committed to that area, and we want to create synergy with all the medical campuses and the medical school, and with some of the startup, biotech companies locating to that area.
PBN: How does Lifespan’s investment in South Providence and the Prairie Avenue development distinguish its commitment to community?
BABINEAU: We are committed to making strategic investments that will help improve the community and help improve the health of our community.
PBN: How do the recent layoffs and decline in operating revenue affect future plans?
BABINEAU: It’s a reduction in force, really, at the management level and above, so far. It’s not really across the board. It’s been really targeted. The transaction with Gateway Healthcare [the state’s largest provider of community-based mental health services] … will add another 1,000 employees. …We’re envisioning a bright future, right-sizing our expense profiles in a thoughtful way over the next two years, so we can be here for another 150 years, like Rhode Island Hospital. We will make sure that care at the bedside is not touched. The quality of patient care is our top priority. The cost reductions will be made mostly through better care coordination and elimination of waste and our investment in Epic [a new health IT platform].
PBN: How will Lifespan’s expansion of outpatient centers and facilities in Providence redefine Lifespan’s campus?
BABINEAU: As we make this transformation from a hospital-based system to a patient-centric system, moving out of the hospital campus and into the community where the patients live, the size of our geographic footprint will become important as we try to provide the right care at the right location at the right price. …
The health care industry, in general, and Lifespan, in particular, has been a hospital-centric system. The new reality requires us to become a patient-centric system, requires us to [reach] into the community we serve. •