George Vecchione/Courtesy photo

George Vecchione will step down at the end of next year from his post as chief executive officer of Lifespan, the hospital system that includes Rhode Island Hospital, The Miriam Hospital, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, and Bradley Hospital. Vecchione has led the system, which is Rhode Island’s largest private employer, since 1998. He is not retiring but has not announced his future plans, said hospital spokeswoman Gail Leach Carvelli.

“George has done an exemplary job leading Lifespan for the last 13 years,” said Alfred J. Verrecchia, chairman of the board of directors. “His leadership and vision helped turn around the organization to make it one of the leading health care systems in the nation.”

Vecchione, who has taken some heat in recent years for his high salary, came to Lifespan from New York Presbyterian Healthcare System in 1998, a challenging time for the Rhode Island system. It then had a $50 million operating loss, along with deferred infrastructure investments and low employee morale, according to a hospital press release. Last year, the system had an operating income of $30.9 million, according to the hospital’s annual report.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

“My goal has always been to create a financially stable organization that is positioned to make significant improvements in patient care and enhance clinical programs throughout Lifespan,” Vecchione said in the release. “I’m very proud of these efforts and their impact on making Lifespan the leading health care system in our region.”

Vecchione, who lives in Warwick, studied accounting at St. Francis College in Brooklyn and has a master’s degree in health care management form Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. He has sat on various Rhode Island boards, including for the Rhode Island Quality Institute and the Hospital Association of Rhode Island.

He will remain as chief executive officer until Dec. 31, 2012. The Lifespan board will look for his replacement in the meantime.