Who we are?
- We are doctors at Lutheran Health Network, first and foremost.
- We have been talking to CHS on behalf of over 250 physicians as well as members of the medical staff of LHN who are equally concerned about the issues facing LHN.
- We are dedicated to ensuring that LHN is the best that it can be, and doing what this community believes we need to do, to accomplish that.
What just happened?
- The Board of Community Health Systems (CHS) has notified us they are no longer willing to engage with us regarding the critical issues facing Lutheran Health Network.
- CHS claimed they are rejecting an “offer” from us, but have used this as an excuse to refuse to engage further.
- Same day as they rejected the “offer” CHS threatened us with legal action if we were to continue our campaign regarding the problems facing LHN, and specifically if we continued to send any further communications to the CHS board addressing such problems.
- The ‘offer’ CHS rejected was in fact the willingness of well-known, sophisticated potential partners to purchase CHS’s interests in LHN. Our doctors would have sold nothing and bought nothing. Instead we would have secured a new partner committed to support LHN and our community.
- Lack of needed investment by CHS dates to at least as far back as 2008 and includes repeated workforce reductions, hiring freezes, quarterly expense reduction plans, employee benefit reductions and non-competitive wage increases. This has been implemented without apparent regard to local input.
- LHN board and physicians have repeatedly requested CHS fund routine operating expenses (new beds, new equipment, telemetry and sterilization upgrades). Also requested were capital investments for growth (new heart center, proposed 8 years ago); new oncology center (proposed 3 years ago); and revitalization of the downtown hospital (proposed 5 years ago). Also requested: prioritize physician recruitment and implement new electronic medical records system.
- CHS drained the healthy cash flow from LHN to, we suspect, help service the massive debt load of the parent company.
- Repeated promises to invest in LHN have come to nothing.
- Only remaining alternative was to find a partner who could cash out CHS’s interests in LHN and work with us to restore and rebuild LHN.
- As a condition to a potential partner conducting diligence alongside the doctors, CHS demanded we sign a non-disparagement agreement which would prevent us from speaking to CHS or even our patients, colleagues and staff about LHN. Agreeing to this would compromise our fundamental obligation to provide quality health care and so we could not and did not agree to what amounted to a gag order on anything other than good news.
- We proposed alternatives to address their legitimate concerns, but would permit us to continue to speak honestly and truthfully to our patients, our staff and the government. But CHS continued to insist on silencing us.
- CHS finally modified the restrictive disparagement language and we told them we were ready to sign the agreement and pursue diligence with a potential partner. However, within hours of this, we received a letter from CHS attorneys contradicting and significantly raising the price range they had told LHN board chair and vice chair. They sabotaged the process.
- The purpose of our attendance at the CHS board meeting on May 15, 2017 meeting was to ensure that the Board heard directly from us, not filtered through CHS management, the problems and challenges facing LHN.
- However, at the CHS board meeting on April 15, it became clear to us that CHS management’s goal was to blunt our message to their Board regarding the longstanding unaddressed problems at LHN. Management interrupted repeatedly, claiming ignorance of the problems and cited the conveniently-timed $500 million dollar investment promise, of which we are dubious.
- CHS has since the meeting attempted to discredit us by claiming the “offer” presented at the meeting was not “bona fide”, however, the facts are:
- Any “bona fide” offer could only be made by one of our potential partners.
- That no “bona fide” offer could be forthcoming from any potential partner until they had the opportunity to conduct due diligence alongside the doctors, the very diligence that CHS had refused to permit.
- What we did communicate to the Board was several well-known and qualified potential partners were interested in acquiring CHS’s interests and the value we understood they would be prepared to pay for CHS’ interests in LHN, if they were provided the opportunity to conduct due diligence alongside the doctors. A value well within the guidance
provided previously by the President and Chief and Operating Officer of CHS.
Lutheran Health Network, our patients, facilities and employees represent important parts of our lives and we have developed and supported the highest quality and complex levels of care available. This has been possible only with the tremendous support we have received each day from our staff, our patients and our community.
We continue to be dedicated to our patients and to ensuring that LHN is the best that it can be and doing what this community believes we need to do, to accomplish that. We encourage the community to let us know.