The ten year tax
abatement for Porter Regional Hospital is safe for now as the Porter County
Council voted 7-0 to judge it in compliance with the terms of the agreement.
Dan Whitten, D-at large, said last month he suspected the hospital was not
living up to its promises when it cut its staff by about 70 workers and its
latest forms turned in to the County reported 22 new jobs. The Hospital in
2009 had agreed to hire a minimum of 126 employees when it opened its
facility at Ind. 49 and U.S. 6 in 2012.
Porter Health Care
Systems CEO Steve Lunn on Tuesday admitted the information on the forms was
submitted incorrectly which he believes is due to a change in
The correct number
is 346 full-time employees, he told the Council, and said the hospital would
resubmit the compliance form with the current figures.
The total of
full-time positions at Porter Health’s facilities throughout Porter County
is 1,846, Lunn said.
Lunn, who was
appointed as CEO in February 2014 following the departure of Jonathan Nalli,
said it’s the Hospital’s intention to honor the agreement as the abatement
is essential to growing its services.
“We have big plans
for Porter (Regional Hospital). The abatement is going to be a big part of
that,” he said.
Whitten in response
told Lunn he takes the agreement “very seriously” and if it is not honored
he would vote to pull the abatement to “protect the taxpayers of Porter
The Hospital is
expected to save over $12 million in property taxes during the ten-year
abatement period but, along with the additional increase in salaries and
jobs, PRH is required to pay 10 percent of what’s abated each year to the
Porter County Redevelopment Commission.
Whitten said the
abatement, granted in 2009, was seen as a long-term investment with returns
of “increased salaries, people going to work and growing the County’s tax
“I want to see this
be a huge success,” he said.
Scott McClure gave the Council his opinion that the new compliance form will
put the Hospital in good standing.
Lunn said that 50
more jobs are anticipated this year with the construction of a new emergency
room, and June’s layoffs are not to indicate that the Hospital is
contracting. “We are adding and growing services all the time,” he said.
Nurses from Ohio
The question of
whether the hospital should keep its abatement garnered some attention from
outside the state as two registered nurses from Ohio and an associate of
National Nurses United traveled here to speak out against Porter Health’s
parent company Community Health Systems.
The two said they
lost their positions at the CHS-owned Affinity Medical Center in Massillon,
Ohio. They alleged that CHS “puts profit before patient care” and when
requests are made for equipment needed for patient treatment, they were
them for their comments but said the public hearing pertained only to the
From the audience,
chairman of Porter Health Care Systems Board of Directors Dave Rose made
positive remarks about CHS, asserting “they’re the ones that allow us to
Rose echoed Lunn’s
comments that the Porter Health is “going to make more investment and add
more people” in the near future. “Our strategic plan is growth,” he said.
One thing the board
wants to do, Rose said, is “talk more with” the Council, which Council
member Jim Biggs, R-1st was happy to hear. Biggs said the reason there has
been so much “push and pull” between the County and the Hospital in the past
is because of miscommunication and misunderstanding.
going to be paramount to the future,” Biggs said.
Vice-President Karen Conover, R-3rd, told Lunn she appreciated the
“excellent care” by Hospital staff when a family member of hers needed
medical attention and lauded the service it gives to the community. “If
you’re successful, every resident is successful. We invest in you so you can
invest in us,” Conover said.