The "owner" of the Washington Nursing Center says there are now no plans to send anyone out of the community. Technically, the owner of the facility, according to the Indiana State Department of Health, is the Daviess Community Hospital.
However, local hospital officials point out they had no involvement in a decision to move patients out of town and move in COVID-19 patients from throughout the state.
"We are listed as the 'owner,' but that does not mean we make the rules for the facility," said Tracy Conroy, chief executive officer for Daviess Community Hospital. "It is more of a partnership between the hospital and the nursing homes. We have that relationship with Chosen and they are the operator of the Washington Nursing facility."
While Daviess Community Hospital may be an owner in name of the facility and a partner with Chosen Health Care, officials say the decision to send out local residents blindsided them.
"We had no idea this was happening," said Conroy. "I think that is what is so upsetting. Not only are they doing this in our community and we have a partnership with them and we weren't even notified."
Conroy says the hospital got involved with the dispute as soon as it surfaced and tried to get Chosen management to change its mind.
"When we found out we asked them to please not do this, let's meet, let's discuss this," she said. "We asked to see if we could together come up with a plan we could agree upon, but that was ignored."
Conroy questioned whether the plan to take out the local patients and replace them with COVID-19 positive patients had really been thought through.
"In terms of trying to move the patients out quickly, we didn't support that," she said. "We want to do what is best for those residents and the community. Bringing a COVID-19 facility to any small community is a problem because small communities lack the resources of an Indianapolis or an Avon or a New Albany that has multiple hospitals and resources."
She called the Chosen Healthcare idea a good one but one that does not work well in a community like Washington.
"I applaud the state of Indiana for trying to get ahead of this. We all want to be a part of the plan to help the most vulnerable, but it has got to be done strategically. You have to think about resources. We have been working on our surge plan for four weeks, but when we hear something like this, it is wait a minute. We are a small town."
Conroy points out the hospital is still trying to get and keep Chosen Healthcare's attention to put a stop to any future similar plans.
"This is one of the first ones attempted," she said. "And then you get the community outrage, which I can understand because they were trying to move their loved ones out quickly, which is not fair and we did not support the manner in which it was done."
Apparently, now Chosen Healthcare is talking to its "owner" and partner and perhaps even listening.
"I called Chosen Corp. and they said absolutely not. They will not be moving residents from the Washington Nursing Center," said Conroy. "That's their words. I hope I can trust that. I think I can. They assured me they are not going to move residents. That made me feel better because we need to have knowledge of any of those kinds of plans beforehand."
And she points out as the hospital continues to prepare for the surge in COVID-19 cases that are yet to come, the hospital will be keeping an eye on its interests at Washington Nursing Center.
"That's our top priority," said Conroy. "Make sure we do the right thing for the residents at the Washington Nursing Center. We are going to continue to monitor it closely and work with our community officials. Also, try to work with Chosen and see if we can come up with a plan we can agree upon."