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Lifespan, largest hospital owner in R.I., could change name in expanded partnership with Brown University

Signs posted in the windows of Rhode Island Hospital in Providence serve as a send-off to the military medical team that helped the hospital through some of the pandemic’s darkest days. (Bill Murphy/Lifespan)Bill Murphy / Lifespan

PROVIDENCE — Lifespan Corporation, the largest health care system in the state, could change its name to “Brown Health” as part of a new effort to strengthen an existing partnership with the university.

Executives at Lifespan have been in talks to “rebrand” and further include the name of Brown University for months. In separate meetings this month, Lifespan’s board of directors and the Corporation of Brown University voted on the parameters of a “non-binding term sheet” that would authorize both institutions to strengthen the existing affiliation and licensing agreements between the health system and Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School, according to an email sent to members of the medical school on Monday afternoon by Brown President Christina H. Paxson and medical dean Dr. Mukesh K. Jain.


Lifespan and Brown will remain two separate nonprofit organizations, according to the email that was obtained by the Globe.

The news was first reported by WPRI-12.

The university and health care system, which owns and operates five hospitals in the state, have had a long-standing affiliation agreement. Three of Lifespan’s hospitals — Rhode Island, The Miriam and Bradley hospitals — are academic teaching hospitals. Many of the providers at Lifespan are also faculty members of the Warren Alpert Medical School.

It’s unclear when Lifespan might fully rebrand or change its name. Other than providing an emailed statement that confirmed the news, Lifespan spokeswoman Kathleen Hart declined to provide further information in a phone call with a Globe reporter on Monday.

“In regard to your question about the name: nothing is off the table in our ongoing discussions, but there is nothing to report at this point,” said Hart in the emailed statement.

But the existing affiliation agreement between Brown and the health system expires on Dec. 31. “So this is a natural time for conversations about extending our agreement,” wrote Lifespan CEO John Fernandez in an email to employees, which was also obtained by the Globe Monday.


“The discussions between Brown and Lifespan reflect an ongoing shared commitment to align the strengths of both institutions, bolstering the connections between and across delivery of care, medical training, and biomedical research,” wrote Fernandez.

The new proposed affiliation between Brown and Lifespan will “not impact Brown’s valued affiliations” with Care New England, the VA Providence Healthcare System, HopeHealth and Brown Physicians Inc., according to Paxson.

Paxson wrote that both Brown and Lifespan aspire “to ensure robust health care services and biomedical research in Rhode Island and beyond.” She said the entities are looking to drive economic development in the health care sector, which includes through the state’s newly established Rhode Island Life Sciences Hub.

In his email to employees, Fernandez said discussions between the two organizations will continue, and more information will be released “in the coming months.”

Alexa Gagosz can be reached at Follow her @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.