Charest nominated to be next Executive Office of Health and Human Services secretary

PROVIDENCE – Richard Charest, the current director of the R.I. Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, was appointed by Gov. Daniel J. McKee Friday to be the next secretary of the R.I. Executive Office of Health and Human Services.  

Charest, who has served as BHDDH director since 2021, will replace Interim EOHHS Secretary Ana Novais, who has served in that role since Womazetta Jones stepped down in May 2022 for family reasons. 

“I am proud of my tenure at EOHHS and of the team that we’ve built for this past year,” Novais said. “I thank Governor McKee for the opportunity to serve as interim secretary and I look forward to continuing to work with him and the team at EOHHS servicing our Rhode Island families and communities with the guiding principles of voice, choice and equity at the core of the work we do.” 

Charest has more than 30 years of experience in the health care sector. He previously served as CEO and president of Landmark Medical Center. In that role, Charest successfully led hospital operations and finances through receivership, reassured the community, and engaged employees and medical staff to ensure uninterrupted high-quality care. 

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“Since his arrival at BHDDH, Richard Charest has made significant strides and improvements, including the opening of a new state psychiatric hospital and ensuring that Eleanor Slater Hospital is on a positive and stable path,” McKee said. “His steadfast leadership, coupled with his decades of experience in the health care industry, will be a tremendous asset as he serves as EOHHS secretary. I’m honored to appoint him to this important role, and I know he will lead with distinction.” 

Charest also served as CEO and president of the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island and held several executive leadership positions with Landmark Medical Center.  

“I appreciate the confidence Governor McKee has placed in me, in nominating me as EOHHS secretary,” Charest said. “This very important role allows me to implement over 30 years of experience to support the growing and evolving health care needs of Rhode Islanders. After serving nearly two years as director of BHDDH, I have become familiar with the opportunities and challenges we face across state government. The work of our employees, legislators and caregivers is significant, and immeasurably important to the success of Rhode Island. I look forward to expanding my collaboration with stakeholders and building relationships that promote innovation to strengthen the continuum of care.”