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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 9:47 pm

Verbatim: Letter to the editor from 6 local physicians

To the Editor:

Because of our great concern for the healthcare of our community, we feel obligated to raise our voices to support the physicians and all caregivers in the Lutheran Health Network.

We have been fortunate to practice medicine at a time when the administration of Lutheran Health Network was very supportive of efforts to deliver world-class healthcare in Fort Wayne. Early adoption of dialysis, cardiac surgery, dedicated coronary care critical care units, heart transplantation and artificial heart technologies, a dedicated burn unit, an emphasis on mind-body wellness, and kidney transplantation are just some of the very advanced technologies that we helped develop within the Lutheran Network. Many of these advances have been available to Fort Wayne patients exclusively in the Lutheran Network, and we are very proud of our respective roles in working alongside the many pharmacists, technicians, nurses, social workers, coordinators, maintenance workers, dietary providers, and all members of the Lutheran team to bring these services to the patients of our region. We have always felt that these services provided world-class care locally and attracted the “best and brightest” co-workers to labor with us. These services, in many ways, represent our professional legacies.

It has become increasingly apparent that much of that legacy is in danger of being profoundly neglected. We fear that the caregivers who provide these services are no longer being given the support required to maintain and grow the environment of cutting-edge excitement and expansion that we helped to foster. An emphasis on supporting money-losing hospitals elsewhere and serving a lavish corporate lifestyle in Nashville has deprived our former colleagues of the funding, educational opportunities, equipment, and infrastructure support needed to attract, grow and enhance innovative care.

We therefore fully support our community over the interests of Community Health Systems. Community Health Systems contend that they will now, after years of neglect, make an effort to re-invigorate Lutheran Hospital by spending some of the Lutheran profits on Lutheran and the Lutheran staff. Perhaps they will. In any case, our community needs to commit to continuously examine whether or not the needs of our caregivers are being met. This scrutiny needs to continue, not just for a year or two, but on an ongoing basis. Community Health Systems needs to know that we feel they are entitled to a fair profit, but not at the expense of our healthcare. If they cannot achieve that balance, they need to turn over the reins of Lutheran Health Network to an entity that can.

Robert Dettmer MD John Dyer MD, Michael Mastrangllo MD, William Clark MD, Thomas Hayhurst MD, Ronald Scheeringa MD