Governor Dan McKee and Health and Human Services Secretary Womazetta Jones today announced Richard Charest as their choice to lead the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH). The Governor has submitted Charest’s name to the Rhode Island Senate for their advice and consent.
“As our administration begins to address the long-standing challenges facing the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, we are pleased to have recruited a strong candidate who can help improve departmental policy, operations, staffing and patient care,” said Governor McKee. “We are confident that Richard’s decades of experience in the health care field have prepared him to lead this department, which provides vital services and support to some of Rhode Island’s most vulnerable populations.”
“Those who rely on BHDDH for their behavioral and medical needs deserve the best care possible. The Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, particularly Eleanor Slater Hospital, has many urgent needs that will benefit from Richard’s leadership and healthcare and hospital management experience,” said Womazetta Jones, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health & Human Services. “I look forward to working closely with him, and Governor McKee, so we can continue improving our state’s behavioral healthcare system.”
Charest has over 30 years of experience in the health care arena. He also has extensive turn-around experience, having led not-for-profit and for-profit community hospitals with tertiary programs and a for-profit specialty hospital. Charest previously served as President and CEO of Landmark Medical Center where he successfully led hospital operations and finances through receivership, reassured the community and engaged employees and medical staff to ensure uninterrupted high-quality care. Charest also served as President and CEO of the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island and held several executive leadership positions with Landmark Medical Center. Charest is currently providing consulting services on healthcare management and operations at Eleanor Slater Hospital, giving him crucial knowledge of a facility that he will oversee as BHDDH Director.
“We have an opportunity to make meaningful change to a critical state department that is decades overdue,” said Charest. “I look forward to supporting the McKee Administration’s efforts to evaluate and improve BHDDH in the best interest of the Rhode Islanders this department serves. This is important work and I look forward to collaborating with stakeholders to deliver the and results that patients and families need.”
As BHDDH Director, Charest will manage a department of more than 1,100 employees and a more than $480 million budget for this fiscal year.
Charest received his MBA in Health Care Administration from Bryant College and a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Northeastern University. He is a former Board Chair of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island.

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