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Yesterday, NICHE responded to some of the comments and questions shared with via our Facebook page and website. Here’s the second of three posts with more answers.

Why don’t LHN nurses unionize?

Dr. John Crawford, a City Councilman, has appeared at the Workers’ Project to support a voice for nurses that does not involve formally petitioning for a union (see
http://www.journalgazette.net/…/crawford-roots-for-lutheran…). Randy Schmidt from the United Auto Workers Union, has written that nurses at CHS need the help of organized labor (see http://www.journalgazette.net/…/healthy-dose-of-employee-em…). And a national union organization has reached out to NICHE to suggest the same idea. However, nurses have said that there are disadvantages to a nurses union (see https://careertrend.com/info-8758313-disadvantages-union-nu…). NICHE has taken no stand on this issue, but we tend to agree with Dr. Crawford that nurses voices need to be heard more effectively at LHN. Nature abhors a vacuum, and if nurses’ and physicians’ concerns are put aside and more FTE reductions are implemented, it is not far-fetched to believe that previous reluctance to unionize will give way to a collective effort.

The city uses eminent domain to take property for other projects. Why not this one?

NICHE has written about a property under discussion for a number of potential uses: the former Superior Iron and Metal scrapyard site on Clinton, north of the river. This site could potentially require special cleanup, with the buyer footing the bill, including indemnification into the future. Site preparation costs for this type of property range from $3 million to more than $10 million, depending on what is found. It is early to know the cost for this property until the City’s work is more complete.
It’s notable that no one has spoken of costs relating to the razing or reselling/repurposing St. Joe Hospital–the latter of which would require remediating contamination. One of many potential issues: the St. Joe nursing dorm is listed in the Indiana Brownfields Program Site List (as of June 2016).

Other sites present their own problems, from razing buildings to unknown site preparation costs.

Can NICHE attempt to bring any positivity to this incredibly important conversation, or is that not an option in the current political arena? Both staff and patients need to feel secure and confident.

NICHE has attempted to reach LHN CEO Michael Poore by hand-carried letter and telephone and all attempts have gone for naught. As our local media has also learned, calls are not returned. We had hoped that more information would be revealed at the recent St. Joseph’s Hospital board meeting, but it seems that didn’t happen. Our guess is that only LHN parent company Community Health Systems (CHS) can answer such questions and local management has little, if any, decision-making authority. As to “secure and confident,” how any thinking person would feel secure after weeks of resignations and dismissals seems impossible to us. The positivity NICHE can offer is that the more information made public and available to employees, the less likely that management’s sub-par performance will be tolerated. With the right management, Lutheran Hospital, its physicians, its nurses, and the rest of its employees can once again earn a five-star rating.