2017-03-23 / Front Page

Paiva Weed Resigns to Head Hospital Group

By James Merolla

M. Teresa Paiva Weed, the state’s first woman to serve as president of the Rhode Island Senate and a state senator from District 13

Newport, Jamestown) since 1992, announced her resignation Wednesday, March 22 to accept the presidency of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island (HARI), a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to better health care. The resignation takes effect May 1.

The stunning announcement came during a one-hour press conference held at the State House. She will transition out of the Senate over the next month.

“This has been a very special time in my life, having had the opportunity to represent the residents of Newport and Jamestown for the past 25 years,” said Paiva Weed, who has served as Senate President for nine years. “I am both humbled and grateful for the faith and trust they have placed in me, and it has been my privilege to be their voice in the Rhode Island Senate. I am immensely proud of the accomplishments we have achieved together.

“After much soul-searching, I believe it is time to take on new challenges. Perhaps at no other time in our history has it been so critically important to ensure the vibrancy and affordability of hospitals and our overall health care system.”

Paiva Weed’s legislative accomplishments are vast and far-reaching. Early in her legislative career she spearheaded efforts to reform the state’s welfare system, and she was instrumental in the passing legislation that changed the manner in which judges are selected to a merit-based process.

She also established the property tax cap, created the Family Independence Act and restructured the Victims Compensation Fund. She is credited with championing green jobs legislation, education and job training initiatives, and legislation to improve the state’s business climate. She most recently fought for funding for the relocation of the Newport Pell Bridge ramps.

As Senate President, Paiva Weed shepherded into law legislation to address the opioid overdose crisis, and in the most recent session she has supported a package of legislation improving access to mental health treatment and preventative services, as well as legislation to reform the state’s sentencing and probation system.

First elected Senate President in 2009, she was re-elected by her colleagues four times.

“It’s been my absolute honor to serve with so many extraordinary people over the years, from my colleagues in the Senate to my talented staff,” she said. “I could not have asked for a more dedicated, civic minded group of extraordinary people, all working to serve their constituents in the best possible manner. It has been an honor serving in the same arena with them.”

She thanked her parents, who she said live a mile away from her because, “I don’t do change well.” She thanked her stepdaughter, Nicole.

“I never left Newport. Change is never easy, but I feel this is the right decision for me, the Senate and the state of Rhode Island,” she said. “Today was my last day at the podium. Please bear with me if you see a tear or two out there.”

She also thanked Gov. Gina Raimondo, calling her “a very effective leader.”

She said she would be helping the Senate with the transition over the next few days. Then, after two minutes of enthusiastic applause from a packed audience of elected officials and staff, she fielded questions for 25 minutes.

She said that the time to leave picked her, rather than the other way around.

“If I would have picked a time, I don’t know if I would have picked this moment in time, but this opportunity came up a couple of weeks ago when (outgoing HARI president) Mr. (Michael) Souza offered his resignation, and I’m very proud of my work in improving health care,” she said. “You don’t get to pick when opportunity comes. Sometimes, you just follow your intuition.”

When asked who might replace her in District 13, Paiva Weed said, “This seat has been occupied for 25 years. I am sure there are a lot of individuals who are going to seek this seat.”

Paiva Weed will become the first woman president in HARI’s history. She will oversee day-to-day operations and direct member services. Her appointment was unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees.

Founded more than 50 years ago, HARI is a statewide trade organization that assists member hospitals through advocacy, representation, education and services. HARI ensures that the needs and perspective of members are heard and addressed in state and national health policy development, legislative and regulatory debates and system transformation matters.

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