Speech given by Todd Rumsey
Good evening and thank you for attending this event. My name is Todd Rumsey and I am speaking on behalf of Fort Wayne Physicians.
The people who are here standing behind me are here because they all believe in Lutheran Health Network and it’s tremendous value to the community.
Tonight I want to talk to you about where we are and how we got here, and to correct the record on what has transpired over the past 9 months. You have a detailed letter that explains all of that. But we wanted to take the opportunity now, to speak to you from our hearts about the future of LHN, about which we care so deeply. Why? Because we are at a critical time for LHN, and we do not believe that CHS shares the vision of excellence that we believe is necessary to restore and revitalize LHN.
As healthcare workers, we seek to make a difference in someone’s life and we must provide the resources to do so. At Lutheran Health Network, we have a great team, and an excellent culture but we do NOT have the human and financial resources necessary to
see the plan through. We do NOT have a corporate partner who shares our vision and commitment to put the patient, their family and the employees first.
Nine months ago, it became clear to several of us physicians that we had exhausted the resources that CHS was willing to offer. As a result, this group, known as Fort Wayne Physicians LLC secured several interested and qualified partners to replace CHS as the majority owner of Lutheran Health Network. No…the doctors did not want to buy CHS out…they wanted to replace CHS with a partner that shares our vision.
We subsequently met with several senior CHS officials and explained to them that we believed the relationship was broken and irreconcilable and that a new partner was needed. They seemed surprised but we reminded them of countless physician and patient
surveys, The Mind Ray Monitoring debacle, the failure to implement EMR (?) in a timely manner, lack of physician recruiting, loss of magnet status, hiring freezes, threatened furloughs, endless expense reduction plans and on and on. Though we started
our partnership with CHS on an optimistic note, we are now faced with entrenched policies and practices that over the past nine years, has created an unsustainable network. Team members are doing their jobs here….but receiving precious little support from our partners at CHS.
So we approached CHS and urged them to permit us to source a new partner. A partner who was committed to working with us and making the investments necessary to restore and rebuild LHN.
What happened next was, in retrospect, 6 months of classic CHS – frustration, delay, and broken promises. Followed by more of the same.
First, CHS refused to permit us to engage with a potential partner. Everything will be fine they said.
Then, finally, in December of 2016, CHS appeared to relent.
- Shortly following a Lutheran Health Network Board meeting at which members of CHS management heard the anger and frustration of our community directly, CHS told us they would pursue a process with us.
- Tim Hingtgen, President and COO of CHS told three board members he was authorized to commit to CHS divesting their share of LHN to a qualified buyer and offered a price range that would be acceptable.
- We had done it. We thought. We got to work and identified several potential qualified partners.
Then CHS presented us with an agreement that we had to sign. An agreement that if we did not sign, our partners could not conduct diligence with us. CHS has called this a “customary” non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreement.
- It was far from customary.
- Non-disclosure was not an issue – we agreed.
- The problem was that their version of “non-disparagement” was simply unacceptable.
- I say unacceptable because it would compromise our fundamental obligation to provide quality health care, patient and staff advocacy and process improvement. We explained to CHS that we could not accept such restrictions – as they would
require that we not report faulty equipment to maintenance — that we not disclose a medical mistake to anyone, including patients and staff. Such restriction would even prevent us from telling a patient if LHN was not the best place for them to
receive a particular treatment.
- Yet – time and again, CHS refused to revise this language.
- More delay
- After almost 4 months had passed from that fateful December conversation with Tim Hingtgen, after CHS had finally agreed to modify the restrictive disparagement language, we told CHS that we were ready to sign the agreement. But, within hours of us telling CHS we were ready to sign their agreement, CHS’s lawyers sent us a letter designed, we believe, to sabotage the entire process. CHS announced a new price expectation, effectively taking LHN off the market.
Finally we were then invited to attend a Board meeting of CHS. A Board meeting that, in retrospect was just another ploy.
- Two days before the meeting, a 500 million dollar investment in LHN was suddenly announced. The community and Fort Wayne Physicians are appropriately dubious of this promise. The history of broken promises is lengthy and healthcare is all about trust.
- At the Board meeting it became clear to us that the goal of CHS’s management was to blunt our message regarding the problems at LHN. Management constantly interrupted our presentation to the Board, claiming they had had no knowledge of the problems, and that the lack of knowledge was someone else’s fault. And continually cited the newly minted $500 million as evidence that they were committed to LHN.
And then following the meeting, after CHS sabotaged our efforts to find a new partner attempted to discredit us by saying we refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement and did not present a bona fide offer – when they knew, no partner of ours could present a bona
fide offer without conducting the diligence CHS had not permitted.
We believe this relationship is irretrievably broken and no amount of promises to fix it, are credible. When patient’s health and well being are at stake…failure is not an option.
In closing, I will simply state that we continue to be dedicated to our patients, the community and ensuring that LHN is the best that it can be. We will do what this community believes we need to do, to accomplish that. So let us know what you want!
It is interesting to note that, on the same day we met with the CHS corporate board the Surgeon General of the United States gave a Med school commencement speech in which he stated:
“Your obligation from today onward is to stand up for the vulnerable and the voiceless and if that means engaging in controversy, then do it anyway. If that means taking the risk of being labeled political, do it anyway because principles are only worth having if you
have the courage to act on them. “
Thank you for coming this evening. I will not be taking any questions. I would refer you to the handouts for details on what I have discussed tonight. There will be a short meeting for physicians only in the auditorium.
Thanks and good night.