The Journal Gazette
Friday, January 25, 2019 1:00 am

Poore to keep leading Lutheran

President plans to give up network CEO title

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

Despite an online job listing for his position, Lutheran Health Network's CEO isn't going anywhere.

Mike Poore, who was named Lutheran network's CEO in August 2017, is holding onto his other title – regional president – as he searches for a lieutenant.

“I want to spend more time on strategic initiatives,” he said during a phone interview. “I want (the new network CEO) to help me keep the trains running on time. I just needed help.”

The position was originally advertised as chief operations officer, a newly created position, but the title on the listing was recently changed to one with more prestige.

“I wasn't getting the candidates I wanted for the COO job,” said Poore, who will continue to be based in Fort Wayne.

Lutheran Health Network is owned by Community Health Systems, which is based in Franklin, Tennessee. Poore transferred here from the corporate office, where he was previously operations vice president for the company's Professional Services Corp., the operating division that includes Lutheran Health Network.

Community Health Systems has had a rocky relationship in recent years with local leaders – on the staff and in the community.

A group of 10 local physicians tried to broker a buyout of the network in 2017, arguing that the parent company wasn't adequately reinvesting profits in the northeast Indiana network of eight hospitals or its more than 7,000 employees.

Some local elected officials, hospital board members and others rallied behind the physicians and staff during that tense time. Although some critics still doubt the debt-laden parent company's long-term viability, Poore said overall staff morale has improved during his 18-month tenure, which began when he was appointed interim CEO in June 2017.

“I think our biggest accomplishment is just gaining the trust of our medical staff,” he said, adding that nursing turnover declined to 13 percent from 26 percent before he arrived.

Poore's priorities include “creating more and different access points” for the community to receive care from Lutheran providers. He will also focus on building a strong medical and administrative staff for the new, $120 million Lutheran Downtown Hospital.

Plans are being finalized for the five-story hospital, which is expected to be completed in late 2021 on a site just west of St. Joseph Hospital. St. Joe will be razed before the new hospital opens.

The downtown staff, Poore said, is much more important than the building it works in.

“I don't need to be involved,” he said, “in picking out the colors of the bricks and mortar.”

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