Former CEO: Keep LaPorte Hospital at its present site

By Leigh Morris

Heads wiser than mine have determined that we need to build a replacement structure for LaPorte Hospital. I hope that is both necessary and cost effective as compared to

Leigh Morris

updating the current complex and enhancing the programs and services it provides. However, I’d like to set that question aside for the moment and focus instead on the question of where that new hospital structure would be located.

In my opinion, there are compelling reasons why the hospital should be exactly where it is — in the middle of downtown LaPorte. It is visible, accessible, and is surrounded by essential support services. Parking is less than optimal, but that could easily be corrected with the updating process. I’ve heard the opinion that there may not be sufficient land, but that should be challenged.

This may well be the best opportunity we have to address three key priorities:

— We need to capitalize on the investment already made and help make sure that available resources are devoted to assuring that the people of this area have access to the finest — and most affordable — healthcare we can provide. Keeping the hospital in its present location will enable continued use of very extensive and expensive gas, electricity, water and sewer utilities and support facilities such as the new Emergency Medical Service building, Founders Square, Heritage Place and The Crossing. Every dollar saved by avoiding unnecessary investment in bricks and mortar could be utilized to assure that our physicians, nurses and staff are empowered and equipped to provide care that is unequaled by any other community hospital.

— Downtown LaPorte needs all the help it can get in continuing to be a viable and attractive city center. The hospital brings hundreds of people to downtown every day of the week.

— The post office desperately needs updating and relocating. Doing so would provide additional space for hospital expansion and provide a post office with adequate access, parking, and drop-off mail boxes that aren’t in the middle of a city street. The current building is seriously outdated and in need of significant investment if it is continued in use.

There’s probably no stronger stronger advocate for development of NewPorte Landing than myself. While some have urged that a new hospital be built there, congestion along Pine Lake Avenue — particularly its intersection with Weller and Truesdell avenues alone — makes that problematic. Also consider soil stability and compatibility with major commercial development.

Although the hospital is now owned by a for-profit company, I believe the new owners want to be responsive to the community’s needs and preferences. I’d encourage anyone who has opinions about the need for a new hospital and the most appropriate location for it to express them to the Interim CEO, LaPorte Hospital, P.O. Box 250, LaPorte, IN 46352-0250, as soon as possible. The clock is ticking on the decision-making process.

LEIGH MORRIS is former president and CEO of LaPorte Hospital and former mayor of LaPorte.

26 Responses to “Former CEO: Keep LaPorte Hospital at its present site”

  1. Richard Herrold

    Feb 08. 2017

    A logical, and as always, a well thought out opinion by Mr. Morris. A tremendous amount of money has already been spent on the current hospital upgrades. A parking garage could also be built at the current parking lot (going up instead of outward) .for a lot less money than an entirely new hospital.

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  2. NDman

    Feb 08. 2017

    I’ve always liked Leigh Morris and his ideas about LaPorte. It’s a shame he’s not the Mayor, then maybe our city wouldn’t be in the mess that it’s in. GOD bless Leigh Morris!!!!!!

    Reply to this comment
    • JD

      Feb 09. 2017

      I think Mayor Milo has been doing a relatively good job. It was time for this town to have young fresh ideas. He had his run.

      Reply to this comment
      • GW

        Feb 13. 2017

        couldn’t agree more, JD!!!!
        Got news for him, there will more then likely be NO hospital here before long….Doctors AND nurses are quitting like crazy and can’t blame them as this new owner doesn’t care about the employees at all…I have been taken there twice and sent to Chicago for surgery as THIS hospital doesn’t have the equipment to do them nor the Doctors!!!! Also right now because of people leaving the ones still there are doing their work PLUS filling in other places where needed….I know this first hand…..how I won’t say as might get someone fired!!!!

        Reply to this comment
  3. John

    Feb 08. 2017

    Could not agree more.

    Reply to this comment
  4. lawman

    Feb 08. 2017

    the stories I hear are about the heating and air systems-to old to update. can this be true. parking a ready fix as said-up not out. seems I have seen several two and 3 story parking garages in my travels?

    Reply to this comment
    • Johnnymac

      Mar 01. 2017

      I have to agree with Leigh I believe the Hospital needs to stay right where it is, I believe it can be renovated cheaper than buying ground and building new especially on the New Porte Landing Property. I worked at Allis Chalmers over 20 years and I know first hand what has been buried and dumped in that swamp area every year when inventory came around, chemicals, paint, thinners, steel, tubs and tubs of bolts nuts washers, outdated parts and such, there is no way the ground below the sand that was hauled in could pass a perk test if it was tested by a firm out of this state. It seems like they want to keep up with the Jones’es AKA Franciscan Alliance in Michigan City.. I believe there needs to be a committee formed with people with common sense ( Trade people, farmers, factory people, common retired people, 1 attorney, 1 CEO and set down to decide the fate of the hospital. I’m with you Leigh…..

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  5. BU

    Feb 08. 2017

    First, I would lime to thank the wonderful job Blair Milo is doing, considering the mess this town was left in from previous Mayors. With this in mind, it is nice to have wishful thinking, but in the current state this town is in, it does not have the jobs nor the infrastructor to even fully support the current hospital structure. With that said, CHS for profit will likely build a smaller two story hospital, with room to expand. The current hospital should be torn down, and city planning come into play and beautify La Porte similar to Valparasio and kickstart this community. The old drug infested stay the course days are over. If you were passing through laporte for the first time, you would keep going and just shake your head.

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  6. Susan

    Feb 08. 2017

    I agree, also, with all of Mr. Morris’ opinions and facts!!! Please, city of LaPorte, listen to him!!!

    Reply to this comment
  7. JD

    Feb 09. 2017

    Mr. Morris is a wise man in that removing the hospital from downtown would hurt the downtown district. However, he remains ignorant in the inter workings(structure, utilities, surrounding structure conditions), etc… The current hospital is a major maintenance nightmare and needs to be replaced to continue to provide advanced care to the community. All the upgrades are just “lipstick on a pig”. The 7 stories of plumbing is failing everyday, the HVAC has to be constantly supplemented in the summer at a huge expense to provide cooling, the boilers are old and not efficient anymore, the nurse call system in areas is on borrowed time. The elevators are always under repair and have outlasted their age for the amount of use and stories they have to travel. Some parking lots have sink holes, staff have to cross busy Lincolnway everyday to get to another building without a crosswalk. The whole thing was built on land that used to be part of the lakes. Modern utilities technology, HVAC technology, and other support equipment tech has greatly improved since the hospital was built. It’s time to start over and build smarter to ensure the hospital can adequately provide for its patients. Think outside the box!

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  8. lawman

    Feb 09. 2017

    BU not sure I understand what tearing down the hospital would do for ”kickstarting ” this town?? you stated that the town does not have the jobs or infrastructure to grow so what would ”beautifying ” a several block area do for this town?

    Reply to this comment
  9. LuA

    Feb 09. 2017

    I would have to agree with some other post. I agree downtown would be the most logical place. Secondly the building is just outdated. Poor heating and air conditioning. Outdated room designs. To tall for the area. My suggestion would to build the hospital in the parking lot. Three stories tall. Make the rooms larger with each room with a pull out couch. Dresser and counter area for balloons and cards. Wheelchair accessible bathroom, high rise toilet with a shower that up could use a shower chair. State of the art X-rays machines. Ct scanners and new open Mri for patients that are afraid of tight spaces. Have a beautiful lobby with trees and foliage and a state of the art dining area to make everyone wanting to come into the hospital to dine. Offer a fantastic coffee and bagel area for people to come on in. Yes I have great expectation for the new facility and all the new modern equipment. Blood pressure machines and computers on every room. Grand items for a grand place with excellent staff that are committed to make you feel better because they will have adequate staff to meet your needs.

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  10. MRP

    Feb 09. 2017

    Unfortunately while CHS is in charge, the fate of the hospital remains to be seen. As a former nurse of 5 years in the critical care setting, I have seen some of the worst that LaPorte and Starke counties have to offer. The people of these counties are who are going to suffer now that CHS is there.

    The leadership at LaPorte Hosp is slim to none. Multiple directors and managers in the past 2 years have either left, been given severance packages, or stepped down from their positions. The previous CEO, CNO, IT director, critical care director, and manager are all gone and have not yet been replaced. There is nothing these “interim” directors and managers can do to fix the hemmorhage of staff they have occurring right now. They have such a loss in nurses, they have had to close entire units (the CVICU). The staff that they do have is insanely overworked and constantly understaffed. They are having to hire agency and travelling nurses at such high pay rates that they are now hemorrhaging money!

    There is nothing that a change in location will do that can help with the management and ownership issues. Unfortunately, as I see it, the hospital is done for… I pray for the staff and the community. Please try to go somewhere else if possible, because you will only get slightly better than nursing home care in the busier units.

    Reply to this comment
    • K

      Feb 11. 2017

      Wish you luck under CHS. All about acquisitions, not people. Closed our office down in less than 2 yrs after our acquisition.

      Reply to this comment
  11. DH

    Feb 09. 2017

    I respect Mr. Morris’s ideas and suggestions. Why not consider his as well as others’ ideas and suggestions? Where is CHS’s proposal? How does it compare?

    Reply to this comment
  12. JD

    Feb 09. 2017

    MRP,
    As a former employee myself, I agree with your statements. Employee relations, staffing levels, and senior interim management are awful. I miss my team everyday, but I could no longer align my values with a company that is greedy and ignorant . When it was no longer about what was best for the patient and CHS managemt began ruling like Stalin, I had to leave.
    However, I hope with enough community support, city and county leadership support, we can take back our hospital. The same goes for our sister hospital, Starke.

    Reply to this comment
  13. CG

    Feb 09. 2017

    Please correct me if I’m wrong or misinformed…
    Since CHS has purchased our once locally owned hospital,
    they (CHS) has: 1. Not followed through on quite a few of the agreement/promises made when being considered as the new owner, 2. “Cleaned house”, and from my understanding, not actually cleaning the facility, but firing/letting go/eliminating positions and making working conditions terrible the employees see the only option is to quit (which by the way-gives CHS exactly what they want, without having to pay unemployment), 3. Closed some of the dining options and severely limited the dining hours impacting the overnight shifts, 4. Eliminated discounted billing options and/or deals for paying all off at once, 5. Closed “departments/centers” with little to no warning which leaves our citizens no options and forced to take their hospital/specialty/skilled care/ physician needs elsewhere, 5. Paying the large cost for traveling nurses and staff…. when they should have been taking care of the dedicated staff that was working or still are working at/with the hospital….
    I’m sure I’m forgetting things….

    With all that (and probably more), why doesn’t the former hospital Foundation buy majority/all of the hospital back?!
    The search can begin again for a potential buyer… rumor was Beacon Memorial had interest at one time…

    Take back our community, non-profit hospital and start to make it great!

    Reply to this comment
  14. Dilbert

    Feb 10. 2017

    I have a idea. Tear it down and go to Franciscan and ask if they would like to build outside the city limits. Why would you want to build a new hospital next to a jail and a very busy set of railroad tracks? Seems like south of town would be the best. But that is just my opinion.

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  15. Taxpayer

    Feb 10. 2017

    Well morris is one of the big reason the hospital was built where it is, a bad move to start with, and taring down the biulding, cost is out of site

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  16. SuzQuz

    Feb 10. 2017

    Thank you, Mr. Morris, for your wisdom. Any amount of work the current hospital needs is more cost effective than building a new one and letting this one stand empty or tearing it down. I think of European countries which use buildings that are centuries old. They rarely consider tearing down a structure. They make do, reuse, update, etc., and thus they maintain beauty and character. I was even sorry to see the old Fairview hospital go. If there had been a way to enlarge it, and increase the parking, it would have been lovely. So now we have fast food joints in its place and no character or beauty of any kind.

    La Porte, please listen to Mr. Morris and those who think as he does. We have lost many lovely buildings in La Porte, including schools. Apparently there are not many who value our past ~ and who think there is an unending source of money.

    Reply to this comment
  17. NDman

    Feb 11. 2017

    Dearest SuzQuz——– Just as I said earlier–Mr. Morris is a man of tremendous wisdom. Our town is soooo full of empty buildings, and holes it should be called LaPorte- The Home of Swiss Cheese!! Mr. Morris would have never have let this happen. I agree with you SuzQuz!!!!!

    Reply to this comment
    • GW

      Feb 13. 2017

      I beg to differ with you NDman, when Mr. Morris was in charge the hospital almost went bankrupt!!! When Mr. Morris was Mayor the City almost went bankrupt…..so YES he would let it happen….
      now with this new owner, they WANT you to pay your bill or most of it before being treated!!! they can’t refuse you treatment but can make it so you don’t or can’t afford to go there…..

      Reply to this comment
  18. Doc

    Feb 12. 2017

    The first priority, in my opinion, is to get rid of CHS. How in the world
    is a company on the verge of bankruptcy going to find the money to
    build a new hospital? Cutting expenses to the bone is obviously
    not working, but guarantees the demise of quality care. In this day and
    age of government dictation of health care, returning to a locally owned
    facility is probably not the way to go. The backing of a large hospital group has something to be said for it when you are negotiating with
    the US Government. Beacon or Franciscan would be obvious nearby
    Partners. Beacon already has a clinic in LaPorte. They may be the most viable partner. Franciscan is currently building a new hospital in Michigan City, so they may not be interested in an additional
    financial outlay, but it never hurts to ask. Mr. Morris is a master
    negotiator. Perhaps he could make this become a reality.

    Doc

    Reply to this comment
  19. Cam

    Feb 19. 2017

    Have you all forgotten the, in my opinion, underhandedness & secretive dealings that went into the new fire station & who was behind that? With land to rebuild on for free, but NOOO. The roads that were tore up & remain pretty much a mess from him allowing heavy equipment to drive & park on them with the widening of Pine Lake??? The ones he PROMISED would be fixed after pine lake was done.

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  20. Cam

    Feb 20. 2017

    Editor why did you change MY post and add “in my opinion” when i clearly did NOT state that? Its a FACT not an opinion.. and the whole town knows what went on. Oh well… false reporting I guess… depends on whose side you are on OR indulged in huh?! ,

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  21. Madeline

    Feb 26. 2017

    As one of the commenters above pointed out, does no one remember the whole fire station debacle? Leigh Morris is the reason it’s in such a horrible location! I think He is far from an “expert” when it comes to locating services. Mayor Kathy had things all set up for the fire station to be built on Truesdell near its former location, along with a new, state of-the-art, INCOME-GENERATING training center. But no, he couldn’t let her get credit, he had to do something to change it. And man, did he change it. He also had to micromanage the appearance of the hospital, down to door signs! He wasted taxpayer money the same way when he was mayor. Please don’t give this man’s opinion any credence. He is a legend in his own mind.

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