Care New England Health System of Providence, Rhode Island (CNE), and Partners HealthCare of Massachusetts today announced they have agreed to enter into a definitive agreement, the next step in the process for CNE to become part of Partners HealthCare.

Last year, the CNE Board of Directors conducted an expedited review of more than 12 state, regional, and national health care organizations, including for-profit and not-for-profit entities. In April 2017, CNE announced that it had elected to join Partners HealthCare, signing a Letter of Intent (LOI) and agreeing to negotiate exclusively with Partners. Today’s announcement comes after a 10-month due diligence process, which has resulted in a plan for CNE to regain solid financial footing in the coming years.

Today’s announcement, which was approved by the Boards of Directors of Care New England and Partners HealthCare, marks an important milestone in the exclusive negotiations. The definitive agreement represents a more formal document that would outline the details and plans for the actual transaction. Following the development and execution of the definitive agreement, it is expected the organizations would move forward with the needed state and federal regulatory approvals. Both CNE and Partners hope to develop and execute the definitive agreement as soon as possible. As a result of today’s announcement, the existing letter of intent (LOI) and exclusivity has been extended until such a time as a definitive agreement has been executed.

Care New England has maintained a close working relationship with Partners HealthCare since 2009 through a clinical affiliation with Brigham and Women’s Hospital (one of the founding members of Partners) in cardiology, and vascular, thoracic, and colorectal surgery. In addition, there has been a long-standing collaborative and collegial relationship between McLean Hospital (a Partners hospital) and Care New England’s Butler Hospital to provide high-quality behavioral health care and innovative research locally within the Rhode Island community.

The plan to move forward with a definitive agreement announced today includes Kent Hospital in Warwick; Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island in Providence; the VNA of Care New England, based in Warwick; Butler Hospital in Providence; and The Providence Center in several Rhode Island locations. Under the proposal, the strong educational and research relationship that CNE has fostered with Brown University will continue to play a critical role in the health care landscape and its future development.

“Today’s announcement is a positive step for Rhode Island health care as well as our state’s economy,” said CNE Board Chair Charles R. Reppucci. “I would like to express my most sincere appreciation to all involved who helped us get to this important milestone. While we still have much more work ahead of us, we are one step closer to realizing a unique clinical affiliation that would place Rhode Island at the forefront of health care delivery both locally and beyond.”

Said CNE President and CEO James E. Fanale, MD, “We look forward to the opportunity this now affords and what it means for the delivery of high-quality health care for our patients, the community we serve, and our vital academic partnerships. We will continue to focus our efforts on the remaining work while doing so with perseverance that reflects the needs of our patients and the ever-changing health care landscape.”

“Since 2009, CNE and the Brigham have had a close clinical affiliation. By combining the talent, experience, and resources of our two organizations, we will achieve more integrated, coordinated care offered conveniently – in the right place at the right time – improving outcomes and reducing the rise in health care costs,” said Brigham Health President Betsy Nabel, MD. “Partners and Brigham Health are steadfast in our commitment to strengthen local care delivery and enhance quality for patients and communities that Care New England serves.”

“Our lengthy discussions and due diligence with CNE have strengthened our relationship and further solidified our interest in building on the successful clinical collaboration we have already developed together,” said Partners HealthCare President and CEO David Torchiana, MD. “We are also aware of and deeply respectful of the other components of the Rhode Island health care landscape and hope to find common ground and mutually beneficial pathways to improve the academic strength of the hospital programs and maximize the benefit to the Rhode Island economy.”

Partners HealthCare is an integrated health system founded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition to its two academic medical centers, the Partners system includes community and specialty hospitals, community health centers, a physician network, a managed care organization, home health and long-term care services, and other health-related entities. Partners is one of the nation’s leading biomedical research organizations and a principal teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. Partners HealthCare is a non-profit organization.

Care New England Health System is a trusted organization that fuels the latest advances in medical research, attracts the nation’s top specialty-trained doctors, provides renowned services and innovative programs, and engages in the important discussions people need to have about their health and end-of-life wishes. Care New England is helping to transform the future of health care, providing a leading voice in the ongoing effort to ensure the health of the individuals and communities of the region.

CNE was founded in 1996, and today it is the parent organization of Butler Hospital, Kent Hospital, Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, the VNA of Care New England, The Providence Center, and Integra, a certified accountable care organization (ACO) created in collaboration with the Rhode Island Primary Care Physicians Corporation. Care New England includes 970 licensed beds and 216 infant bassinets. Care New England has a teaching and research affiliation with The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Kent is a teaching affiliate of the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, located in Maine.