Top doctor at Eleanor Slater Hospital, BHDDH stepping down

PROVIDENCE – The top doctor charged with helping reform the troubled state psychiatric hospital is stepping down after less than a year on the job.

Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz, the chief medical officer of Eleanor Slater Hospital and the R.I. Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, is leaving her post on July 22, department spokesman Randal Edgar confirmed in an email on Friday.

McCance-Katz, who previously served in the Division of Diversion Control at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and also had roles with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, was appointed as chief medical officer in September 2021. Her appointment came on the heels of a controversial state report detailing poor leadership and operational problems within the state-run psychiatric hospital facility. 

McCance-Katz in a resignation letter to BHDDH Director Richard Charest, which was shared with PBN, said she was stepping down to “devote my time helping and supporting my family members,” citing “major losses in recent months.”

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She also listed in the letter a series of accomplishments achieved during her 10-month tenure with the state agency, including policy and procedure reforms and improved patient care which helped the hospital regain its accreditation from the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations.

“Dr. McCance-Katz played a pivotal role in the turn-around of the hospital,” Charest said in an emailed statement. “Undaunted by the challenges that faced us, she steadfastly navigated the hospital forward. While I served in dual roles as Director of the Department and Interim CEO of the hospital, I can say that she did not hesitate to step in where leadership was needed.”

An interim chief medical officer will be named on McCance-Katz’ final day, while the search for a permanent successor will begin soon, Edgar said.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Lavin@PBN.com.