Police report: Lutheran Health Network tensions result in threat against former CEO Brian Bauer

Karen Fordham
Brian Bauer
Vince Green

The ongoing conflict involving Lutheran Health Network, its Tennessee-based parent company and the former Lutheran executive being sued for allegedly disclosing confidential information has escalated into a threat of violence, according to an Allen County Police report.

According to the report, St. Joseph Hospital CEO Karen Fordham suggested former Lutheran Health CEO Brian Bauer “Should be shot and killed for what he did” while speaking during a meeting Feb. 28. Bauer contacted police after being told of Fordham’s statement by St. Joseph Chief Operating Officer Vincent Green, who had been in the meeting with several other individuals. Green is no longer employed by the hospital, but Lutheran Health spokesman Geoff Thomas said rumors that his departure had anything to do with his handling of the incident are “inaccurate.”

CHS is suing Bauer in Williamson County (Tenn.) Circuit Court for allegedly using information gained as Lutheran Health CEO to seek new ownership for the local network and to help IU Health establish a presence in Fort Wayne. A judge ruled last month that Bauer did indeed reveal confidential information but could continue to work for IU Health.

According to the report, Fordham reacted negatively to news reports indicating the decision favored Bauer. “The headline made it seem like he (Mr. Bauer) won, ‘We won.’ Our whole plan was to show IU Health . . . what he did while working for us. Who is to say he won’t do it to them?

“He should be shot and killed for what he did.”

Read the report

The report indicated CHS determined Fordham had made “intemperate and inappropriate comments” and that she had been counseled that such comments were unacceptable. An email from parent company Community Health Systems further indicated there was no reason to believe Bauer was even under an actual threat.

Bauer, according to the report, believed the incident “had gone too far and that he was very troubled by the comment.” The report indicates CHS believes Bauer “is using this incident as an obvious effort . . . to further (his) own personal agenda.”

Bauer was terminated after CHS rejected the $2.4 billion buyout offer for LHN submitted in May by a group led by local attorneys.

According to the report, Bauer “feels as if he and his family are unsafe, not knowing if any of the threats would be carried out. He wished that all of the threats and negative talk would stop.”

The Allen County Police are investigating the incident, but charges are not considered likely.

Green, a Fort Wayne native who did not respond to a request for comment, was named St. Joseph COO in 2016 after serving as assistant chief executive officer. Fordham was named CEO in January after serving as president and CEO of a 158-bed teaching hospital in downtown Detroit.

Bauer declined to comment. Thomas said “an off-the-cuff and regrettable comment made in a small group of administrative staff at St. Joseph Hospital was reported to our compliance line. We take reports to the compliance hotline very seriously, and the incident was addressed accordingly.”