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Could this happen in Fort Wayne?

Tennova hospital in West Knoxville, Tennessee, may provide an interesting precedent for other Community Health Systems-owned hospitals–including St. Joesph Hospital. Some history:

In 2014, as reported by WATE-TV (…/state-panel-approves-certificate-of-need…/), CHS acquired a certificate of need, required by Tennessee Law, to build a new hospital in West Knoxville.

“Tennova says it needs to be replaced because it’s too old to keep up with new technology,” the story says, “but opponents say it would leave North Knoxville residents without a nearby hospital.” In the same story, Tennova CEO Neil Heatherly is quoted as saying, “Our current goal is to open the new medical center in late 2018.”

In 2015, again as reported by WATE-TV (…/tennova-purchases-land-to-replace-north-…/) “Tennova said they have completed the purchase of a 109-acre tract of land for a new hospital. The healthcare provider said they plan to build a 272-bed hospital on the land.”

Then, in September 2016, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported (…/tennova-work-continues-on-ne…/9106) this: “Tennova Healthcare said this week that preparation on the site of its planned new hospital in West Knoxville continues. Now, amid quiet rumors of a scale-back, Tennova Vice President of External Relations Jerry Askew said hospital plans are moving forward…we anticipate land clearing…next month.” The story goes on to quote Askew as saying, “Since receiving [certificate of need] approval, we have continued to fine-tune the design of the hospital to make certain it incorporates the constantly changing care delivery models present in virtually all our service lines.”

Two months later, in November 2016, the story captures national attention from USA Today (…/tennova-moving-ahead-h…/93159504/). Despite things seemingly having gone…well, “askew”…the new hospital is “still is on track, even though Tennova’s parent company (CHS) reported it had discouraging financial results for the third quarter of 2016.” Askew says, “We are going to build a hospital. Nothing has changed.”

Finally, nearly a year later, in October 2017, this from the Knoxville News Sentinel (…/tennova-still-planning…/724353001/). “Tennova Healthcare still plans to build a West Knoxville hospital.” Russell Mariott, vice president of marketing and development for Tennova, however, sounds a little vague when he says, “We do not yet have a schedule, nor has construction begun, as our planning is still in process.”

So while it’s true that this is another (proposed) hospital in another town, CHS’s involvement compels NICHE to ask whether it’s foreboding that a (proposed) replacement hospital that sounds a lot like the (proposed) St. Joseph’s replacement seems to only be supported with wishes and words, not deeds and progress. We hope this isn’t the case. But many questions still remain about the (proposed) new St. Joe–enough to make us ask, could it happen here?