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Fort Wayne City Council Members, Doctors Support Lutheran Hospital Buyout

Courtesy/Lutheran Health Network

Lutheran Health Network is currently owned by Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, but a group of Northeast Indiana doctors wants to buy it from the multi-state health organization.

Lutheran staff expressed support for the buyout in a meeting Thursday and on Friday, a group of Fort Wayne City Council members announced their support as well.

Fort Wayne Councilman John Crawford says the profits from Lutheran are currently going to out-of-state Community Health Systems. He thinks it would benefit Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana if local doctors kept profits from Lutheran Hospitals in the area.

“It’s a no-brainer that it would be better for Fort Wayne and the medical community if that money was reinvested here,” he said.

Crawford is also a physician who works with Lutheran Health Network, and he says doctors there are supportive of the move to make the hospital locally owned.

Lutheran Health Network operates eight hospitals in Northeast Indiana, and Crawford says it generated $300 million dollars in net profits last year. But that money went to its parent company in Tennessee, which Crawford says operated at a net loss of $1.7 billion in 2016.

Amid criticism that profits aren’t staying in Northeast Indiana, Lutheran Health Network announced last week it would invest $500 million in its facilities over the next several years. But Councilman Crawford is skeptical.

“As a politician, it’s a little suspicious that that occurred a few days before this board meeting, when they’ve been asking for capital investment for years,” he said.

A spokesman for Lutheran Health Network declined to comment, and a representative for its parent company Community Health Systems couldn’t be reached as of Friday afternoon.