Letter: Gutwein served community well

As past chairs of the Eskenazi Health Foundation (formerly the Wishard Memorial Foundation) we are in a unique position to set the record straight regarding Matt Gutwein. Matt has done as much or more for the Indianapolis community as any person we know and he deserves the thanks and appreciation of the community.

Our purpose is not to add to the recent controversy regarding the Indianapolis Health and Hospital Corp. under Matt’s leadership. We welcome a careful examination of the facts, which will clearly demonstrate that HHC was an innocent victim of a massive fraud perpetrated by the third-party managers of nursing homes owned by HHC. 100% of HHC’s losses have been recovered and the perpetrators are in jail.

Some people have even suggested that there is a nexus between the ownership of the nursing homes and the crimes of the operators. It is a ridiculous suggestion. Other people have criticized Matt and HHC for taking advantage of a federal law that allows increased reimbursement for nursing homes owned by hospitals and governmental agencies like HHC. This is something being done throughout the country. It is perfectly legal, and it is up to Congress to change the law if change is warranted.

Enough said about the controversy. What is uncontroverted but not necessarily well known is how Matt led the efforts of the city of Indianapolis to better serve the medical needs of the underprivileged and uninsured in this community. When Matt began his tenure as head of HHC, many of the physical facilities available to provide health services to the underserved, low-income members of our community were deplorable. Fortunately, despite such working conditions, we were blessed with highly competent health care professionals who were dedicated to serving the needs in our community. As a result of Matt Gutwein’s leadership, we now have a network of public health care facilities second to none in the country, including both new and renovated neighborhood health clinics and a new safety-net hospital that make us the envy of the country.

Not only did Matt rebuild the medical facilities, he rebuilt the Eskenazi Health Foundation, which has become the vehicle through which the community has provided more than $135 million of charitable support for the most vulnerable in our community.

As past chairs of the foundation, we want to set the record straight. Matt Gutwein has been an incredibly valuable asset to this community. His legacy should not be tainted because he recognized the opportunity provided by the federal legislation and thereby benefited the underserved in this community. Any suggestion of wrongdoing is absolutely wrong. Before Matt was employed by HHC, our public health care facilities were not places you would want to visit, let alone places where you received your medical care. Matt saw a way to enhance the health care services in the community and for that Matt deserves our praise and not implications of wrongdoing.

Matt, we salute you for your service to the Indianapolis community.

__________

David H. Kleiman, John E. Pelizzari,

Michael L. Smith, John T. Thompson

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