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NICHE welcomes questions to our Facebook page and our website (where they can be submitted anonymously). Because NICHE is volunteer run, we can’t immediately respond to all the comments we receive—but we did want to take the opportunity to address some of the (paraphrased) questions that have been asked repeatedly. This is the first of three consecutive posts with those answers.

Who runs NICHE? What’s your agenda?

NICHE, a not-for-profit Indiana corporation, was formed by three retired physicians: William Cast, J.Phillip Tyndall, and Matt Sprunger. NICHE has applied for a 501c3 designation. Our goal is to educate the community and report on regional healthcare.

Why doesn’t NICHE reveal its sources?

We consider ourselves reporters, and—like nearly all journalists—we protect our sources to encourage the free flow of information. We rely heavily on public sources for information and attempt to have multiple interviews to confirm reports.

I thought all the housing around and near St. Joe was designated as historic?
Historic buildings and historic neighborhoods are different designations, the strongest protection most often being given to individual structures by local codes. We know of no historic designation for the St. Joseph’s Hospital building and readily-available maps like the one provided by Fort Wayne Community Development (http://www.fwcommunitydevelopment.org/…/historic_districts_…) are unclear.

The Fort Wayne Code states: “Demolition of significant buildings, structures, sites, objects, or trees within Fort Wayne Historic Districts is discouraged. Given the irreversible nature of demolition, full deliberation of all alternatives before action is essential. However, the Historic Preservation and Protection Ordinance specifies criteria and conditions under which demolition can proceed.” (See http://www.fwcommunitydevelopment.org/…/certificate-of-appr…)

Why do you only concentrate on Lutheran Health Network? If you’re concerned about health care excellence you should be giving equal time to Parkview.

We include educational material as often as possible, the most recent examples being the Rand Report regarding Parkview’s high prices, and also reporting costs of building different types of new hospitals. We post one item per day, however, and both the unusual national stories (Bloomberg, Axios, J.P. Morgan Chase, Moody’s) and the constant stream of local stories are far more about CHS and LHN than Parkview. Finances are another factor that affect quality, and Parkview’s balance sheet is strong, with all of its hospitals being new and four-star, except for Wabash, where a new hospital is under construction. CHS finances are characterized as “debt-ridden,” its facilities have been described (in Bloomberg) as “dirty, dingy,” there’s a potential loss of a star rating at Dupont, nursing staff levels are low, and no new construction is planned at its facilities in Peru, Bluffton and Kosciusko County. It’s worth noting that we never criticize LHN nurses and doctors, who must work even harder to provide good care under these conditions. Our strong desire is for a vibrant LHN that values the healthcare team and is able to recruit and retain the best professionals in our region.