7 min read

Feb. 27, 2024 | Is Lutheran Health Network in trouble?

Feb. 27, 2024 | Is Lutheran Health Network in trouble?

Hey Locals,

Last week, Lutheran Health Network's parent company released a report showing signs of trouble. What does this mean for us (if anything)?

Plus: yesterday, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry announced that he's been diagnosed with late-stage stomach cancer. This sad news comes just over a month after his wife, Cindy Henry, died of pancreatic cancer.

We have the latest on these and other stories below. But first:

Don't forget: in February, all paid subscribers get a FREE 12 oz. drip coffee at Tall Rabbit Cafe + Community at 2001 S. Calhoun St. You can gain access to our monthly freebies (and our premium newsletter) with a paid membership. And guess what, you can get that coffee with this 30-day free trial.

This month's newsletter is brought to you by Visit Fort Wayne.

Let's get started!

What's going on with Lutheran Health Network's parent company?

Lutheran Health Network currently operates four ER facilities in Fort Wayne.

What's happening?

Lutheran Health Network (LHN)'s parent company, Community Health Systems (CHS), is struggling. Here's what you need to know:

  • Last week, CHS reported a $133M annual loss for 2023, despite a "positive operating margin" with total operating revenue of $12.5B. (In other words, CHS was profitable, if you look at operations only, but not if you consider non-operating costs like taxes, loan servicing, and depreciation – more info on operating margins here.)
  • The company also has 11.5B in "long term debt" according to the JG. A Wednesday SEC filing suggested its high debt load: "could adversely affect our ability to refinance existing indebtedness or raise additional capital to fund our operations, limit our ability to react to changes in the economy or our industry and prevent us from meeting our obligations under the agreements related to our indebtedness."
  • CHN is a for-profit company operating 71 facilities in the U.S. And its troubles could have ripple effects for healthcare facilities across the country; Modern Healthcare reports the company is considering selling $1B in facilities (i.e. hospitals) to improve its financial outlook.
  • A representative from Lutheran said LHN was profitable in 2023 and plans to continue investing in Fort Wayne, but did not directly answer our questions about how the CHS news might affect local facilities. "While Lutheran (and other CHS-affiliated health systems) do not disclose the same performance detail that the company provides, I can share with you that across the network, Lutheran provided care for approximately 30,000 inpatient admissions and more than 52,000 surgeries in 2023 - and we look forward to more growth this year," says Director of Marketing LauraMarie Carmody.

Why it matters

At the moment, it's hard to tell what, if anything, this means for our local healthcare scene. We delve into important context in our premium newsletter, available with a 30-day free trial.

  • Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry has been diagnosed with late-stage stomach cancer. Henry, who was re-elected last fall to a fifth term, announced his diagnosis in a press conference on Monday. Henry said he intends to serve as mayor as long as he is able. "My prognosis is not exactly encouraging," he said. "I will, however, begin chemotherapy treatments next week." Should he be unable to continue, Deputy Mayor Karl Bandemer would step in, and, according to the Journal-Gazette, "the Allen County Democratic Party would then have 30 days to call for a caucus to elect the next mayor." During the press conference, Henry also asked for continued privacy for his family at this time. His wife, Cindy, passed away from pancreatic cancer in January.
  • The City of Fort Wayne has a new online engagement portal. Engage Fort Wayne provides information about ongoing city projects and initiatives and gives residents an opportunity to share their perspectives. The city says the portal will not replace traditional in-person engagement like neighborhood visits, but is designed to create a more inclusive, participatory process. The site uses responsive design and features multilingual translation in Spanish, French, Chinese, Burmese, Vietnamese, and more. Currently, it features projects from Community Development, Parks and Recreation, and Public Works, but the city plans to incorporate projects from other departments as well.

Plus: Fort Wayne on Jeopardy!, PFAS bill at a standstill, highlights from the State of the City, and more. Read about these local stories in our premium newsletter.

Check out the Art Pantry Fort Wayne.

A place to give and take free art supplies Downtown.

The Art Pantry is located outside Brooklyn Pints Microcreamery at 725 Union St. in West Central neighborhood.

What's happening?

Local artist Keileigh Dantzer started the city's first mutual aid Art Pantry in 2022 (inspired by Forward Indiana's community food pantries during the pandemic). We learn more about the project and how you can use (and support) the Art Pantry yourself in our full story.

Why we love it

Art is invaluable to the human experience – but it's also a privilege, to some extent. As the price of nearly everything continues to rise, it's nice to know there's a place in our community where people can access free creative tools and give back as they are able. It's all part of rethinking "giving" as the two-way street of mutual aid, rather than the one-way concepts of charity and philanthropy. The Art Pantry underlines the importance of community connection, which became painfully evident during the pandemic, too.

As Dantzer says:

"COVID forced us to be apart, but these (mutual aid pantries) helped us connect in a different way."

Learn more in our full interview!

  • Listen: to the Philharmonic perform Beethoven's Last String Quartet at the History Center, Feb. 28 @ 7:30. (Tickets: $25 for adults, free for kids.)
  • Mingle: at an open house for Phan Gear Prints's new studio and gallery at 420 E. Brackenridge, on Fort Wayne's Warehouse Row. March 3, 1-6 p.m.
  • Treat: yourself to a beignet from Brooklyn Pints Microcreamery on 'Beignet Day,' Saturday, March 2, 1-9 p.m. (or they run out of beignets – whichever comes first).

What else? We recommend more things to do in our premium newsletter. Try it out with a 30-day free trial.

Share The Local!

We have some snazzy new stickers, mugs, and t-shirts. Grab your unique link below, and share The Local newsletter with friends to earn rewards.

Refer us to your friends, and earn free rewards!
1 Referral

$6 credit towards our Premium Newsletter subscription
2 Referrals

Post a personal shoutout in our newsletter!
3 Referrals

The Local Sticker Pack
5 Referrals

The Local Mug
10 Referrals

Locally printed "The Local" T-shirt
Click to share
Powered by Viral Loops

Support The Local!

Our independent news publication is run by just two locals, Kara and Mike. We are mainly funded by our paid members, and we'd like to keep it that way. If you've enjoyed reading our newsletter so far and have found value in the service we provide, we'd love to have you become a paid subscriber. Help us keep going by upgrading today, and receive our premium newsletter and perks!

Got a story tip or idea?

Let us know at thelocalfortwayne@gmail.com.

Have a great week, Locals!

-Ryan Schnurr (filling in for Kara and Mike)