Employees at Lutheran show solidarity for buyout and CEO

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Lutheran Health Network employees say ‘we’re all in this together.’

Several dozen gathered Saturday to show support for CEO Brian Bauer and physicians after it was announced a proposed buyout of parent company Community Health Systems was on the table.The meeting came after more than a week of questions.

First, Lutheran Health Network announced a $500 million investment by CHS into local facilities. Then, employees said it’s too little too late. They’re tired of the money they generate going out of the community and they want local control of the hospitals.

“It’s a family feeling,” an employee who didn’t want to be identified said. “We’re all in this together.”

It’s not just hospital staff that’s in it together. City leaders also showed support of a buyout at Saturday’s rally. On Friday, several City Council members gathered to announce the buyout proposal and show their support for it.

Employees both on their days off and some coming down on break from the hospital gathered in a parking lot at Lutheran Hospital in support of a local takeover.

However, they felt a risk by participating.

“There are so many more staff that wanted to be here, but really they were afraid of what would happen if they showed up,” Lutheran Medical Staff President James Cameron said. “As Medical Staff president I felt 100 percent we needed to be out here supporting the medical staff.”

This week boards at Lutheran, Saint Joe and Dupont hospitals entered a vote of no confidence for CHS. In a press release from city council members, it said Lutheran Health Network generated $300 million in profit last year, but CHS had a net loss of $1.7 billion.

Those who support the buyout said as the hospitals excel, they’re getting bogged down by CHS’ failures.

“With the money that goes out of the community it prevents us from bringing people in and the staff works twice as hard,” Cameron said.

“Lutheran is a wonderful facility,” Registered Nurse Rachel Griffin said. “As they stated it will be better ran locally with people who really care about the heart of our facility and our community.”

The details of the buyout and if it will happen are not known.