Gutwein resigns as CEO of Health and Hospital Corp.

Matthew Gutwein, longtime president and CEO of Health and Hospital Corp. of Marion County and a power player in Indiana’s health care industry, has resigned, the organization announced Monday.

Gutwein

HHC owns scores of nursing homes around the state, in addition to its downtown Eskenazi Hospital, the Indianapolis Emergency Medical Service, a medical group, an insurance operation and the Marion County Public Health Department.

The sudden departure follows an investigation by The Indianapolis Star that accused Gutwein, 57, of exploiting legal loopholes to shift millions of dollars from nursing homes to the system’s Eskenazi Hospital and other programs.

Gutwein’s resignation takes effect Sept. 30. Neither Gutwein nor Health and Hospital Corp.’s board gave a reason for his departure.

“Matthew Gutwein shared with us that after 18 years, he is deciding to end his tenure as HHC president and CEO,” the board said in its statement. “We thank Mr. Gutwein for his many years of service and look forward to conducting an immediate national search for his successor.”

Gutwein, a lawyer who previously served as chief counsel to Gov. Evan Bayh, said in the statement he would collaborate with the organization’s board of trustees on a transition over the next 30 days.

“After more than 18 deeply rewarding years, it is time for a new leader to build upon our achievements and continue this critically important work for the residents of Marion County,” Gutwein said in the statement. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in this role.”

The Star’s investigation said Gutwein “pioneered a strategy” to acquire paper ownership of nursing homes across Indiana to qualify for extra Medicaid funding available only to government-owned facilities. HHC plowed much of the money to other operations, including Eskenazi Hospital, even though most of HHC’s 78 nursing homes rank in the bottom 25% for staffing levels nationwide.

The nursing homes are operated by an outside company, American Senior Communities. More than 370 residents at ASC nursing homes had died from COVID-19 through late July, representing about 23%  of all residential deaths at long-term-care facilities across the state

The Star noted that the arrangement was legal, but when the FBI separately uncovered widespread fraud by executives of ASC, Gutwein “worried that politicians would pull the plug on the program.” Several people went to prison, including James Burkhart, former CEO of ASC, who was convicted of receiving huge kickbacks from vendors, and using the proceeds to buy lakefront real estate, gold bars and jewelry, according to prosecutors. Burkart is now serving a nearly 10-year sentence.

Under Gutwein’s tenure, HHC constructed the new Eskenazi Hospital to replace the old, dilapidated Wishard Hospital, then located nearby.

Before joining HHC, Gutwein was a partner at Feagre Drinker and adjunct professor of law at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, in addition to serving as chief counsel to former Gov. Bayh. He has served on the board of directors of Newfields, the Economic Club, the Indiana Hospital Association, the Indiana Health Information Exchange and other organizations. He is a native of Monon, Indiana.

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11 thoughts on “Gutwein resigns as CEO of Health and Hospital Corp.

  1. Interesting. About a month ago, I tried with much effort to contact the board of HHC and succeeded. My complaint at the time was the about the Marion County Health Department, and the fact that they seems to be stuck in the 90’s when it comes to technology. I have very little interaction with these guys, but the newest technology they seem to use is a voice mail box. On top of that the website is abysmal.

    A few week later the indy Star reports that the Marion County Health and Hospital Corporation owns nursing homes ALL over the state! I did more research and found out the board is appointed by: The Mayors Office, the City County Council, and Marion County Board of Commissioners. I contacted all of these people.

    I suspect the dollars that this board controls in the hundreds of millions, if not into the billion range. Plus they get a large chunk of tax payer dollars. These guys need some close scrutiny. The Nursing home “scheme” that led to the scandal is beyond belief. The Marion County Public Health Department looks abysmal and that is the last thing you need in a Pandemic. I am proud we have a good county hospital with Eskenazi, but that might need some careful examination as well.

    But, I still have to ask, why does the Marion County Health and Hospital Corporation own nursing homes all over the state!

  2. I am very sorry to see Matt Gutwein leave the Health & Hospital Corp. Like so many others, I had a chance to work with Matt as he led HHC to unparalleled heights. His visionary leadership and down-to-earth, humble approach were among the many special traits he brought to this important position. I remember fondly our meetings where he shared with us his thoughts on how public art and real design should be a part of our public hospital. Indeed, without Matt, there is no Eskenazi Hospital. His care for people is real and inspiring, and his leadership and the team he led has done great things for our city. I, among many who know him, wish him the very, very best and thank him for his many years of service to our community.

  3. Re the Q: Why does HHC own nursing homes all around the state? Answer: For the SPECIFIC purpose of harvesting profit to subsidize indigent health care in the county. This has been a strategy of Health and Hospital Corp since the 1990s — under 4 different mayors.
    The idea that someone “discovered” this is ludicrous. Matt did a great job, as did his predecessor.

  4. Gutwein’s past/current board history is intriguing.

    “Before joining HHC, Gutwein was a partner at Feagre Drinker and adjunct professor of law at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, in addition to serving as chief counsel to former Gov. Bayh. He has served on the board of directors of Newfields, the Economic Club, the Indiana Hospital Association, the Indiana Health Information Exchange and other organizations. He is a native of Monon, Indiana.”

    Note particularly, a board member of the “Economic Club.” Can you just imagine what type of business advice he shared with the membership? Probably started like this: “Want to know how to make a lot of money for your entity/company by scamming the government? Well, here is the playbook. Just remember to send to send my commission to…”

    Wondering what his salary and bonus was for each of his years of HHC employment?
    And imagine the advice he can give to aspiring attorney’s at IU Law School?

  5. So the IBJ uses the Star as its source? How about doing your own reporting. If I wanted to know what the Star reported I would have read that site instead.

    1. The Star did an in-depth investigative report.

      This implies more resources and planning went into their piece than a newspaper usually puts into its reporting. In order to report on this in a timely manner, they credit the Star instead of doing their own in-depth investigative report (which would be pointless anyway since the Star already broke the story).

      This is common practice and efficient.

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