PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Lifespan has named Boston hospital executive John Fernandez to replace Dr. Timothy Babineau as president and CEO, putting a new face at the helm of of Rhode Island’s largest hospital group.

Lifespan president and CEO John Fernandez (Courtesy: Mass General Brigham)

Fernandez, who is currently president of Mass Eye and Ear and Mass General Brigham Integrated Care, is slated to start in early 2023 following a unanimous vote of the Lifespan board of directors, according to a news release.

Babineau stepped down in the spring after a decade at the helm of Lifespan, which owns Rhode Island Hospital, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Newport Hospital and The Miriam Hospital. The former CEO’s departure came shortly after a proposed merger with No. 2 hospital group Care New England collapsed due to opposition from the attorney general and federal regulators.

“These are unprecedented times in health care, and we need a transformative leader who has the vision and expertise to guide Lifespan’s future strategic direction,” Lifespan Chairman Lawrence A. Aubin Sr. said in a statement. “I’m confident that John has what it takes to lead Lifespan through the unprecedented headwinds that all healthcare organizations are experiencing across the country.”

The news release said Fernandez will “guide Lifespan’s strategic direction,” including the hospital’s “ambulatory footprint to make sure patients receive the best possible care in the most appropriate setting.”

He will take the helm at a challenging time for the health system, which has been losing money and struggling to meet patient demand amid a worker shortage. Care New England is also going through a leadership transition, with its new CEO set to take over at the start of next month.

Fernandez has spent 16 years at Mass Eye and Ear, and previously served as vice president at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, according to the announcement. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from The College of Wooster in Ohio and a master’s degree in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania.

Steph Machado ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter covering Providence, politics and more for 12 News. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Ted Nesi contributed to this report.