When Parkview leaves its Randallia campus for its home out north, a campus of 64 acres and nearly one million square feet of buildings will be left without a main anchor.  Parkview plans on leaving certain units to function – 120 beds, plus the surgical, medical, outpatient, and the 24-7 emergency departments will remain at Randallia’s campus.  In addition, the Manchester College School of Pharmacy will relocate to the Randallia Campus.

But let me start with just a refresher on what has happened to our VA Hospital here in Fort Wayne and how I see Parkview as fitting in.  In 2004, the CARES Commission decided that our inpatient unit was no longer sustainable and mandated its closure.  The VA facility would still have an outpatient clinic, but veterans would be left to fend for themselves when it came to inpatient care.  The thoughtless ideas tossed out by the VA system were to send area veterans either to Indy or to Lansing, Michigan – the two closest locations.

These locations would have required our veterans and their family members to travel two to three hours for inpatient care.  A group of area veterans led by Dr. Tom Hayhurst, Dave Britton, Mike Tucker, and a number of others flat out refused to accept this solution and started a grass-roots group called “Veterans for Better Health Care.”  I joined the group about two months after it was organized and am a member to this day.

We fought hard to keep the issue in front of the public and held rallies, handed out thousands of leaflets asking the public to take action, wrote letters to the editor, contacted our congressional senators and representatives, and participated in countless parades.  All to no avail.

Despite Mark Souder’s late entrance into the issue and his much-touted efforts to keep the inpatient beds available, after a five-year battle and two costly studies by Booz Allen Hamilton, the disappointing decision was handed down to still go ahead and close the inpatient unit.

The recommendations also included building a new Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC)  north of the existing structure for ambulatory care  and minor surgeries and to demolish the existing building.  But no solution for inpatient care was provided.

That left area veterans wondering what would become of them when they needed inpatient care.  The options were not terribly exciting.  This decision currently leaves a tremendous gap in caring for veterans with health problems that require hospitalization.  The options are limited:

  • veterans can be required to travel to far away locations if no local alternative is provided, or
  • veterans can be placed in the general hospital population in a hospital of their choosing with individuals who have no experience dealing with veterans’ issues, or
  • a dedicated wing can be established at an area hospital.

This is where Parkview enters the picture.  That dedicated wing could be housed in a vacated portion of the Randallia campus.  In fact, in October 2008,  Parkview spokesman John Perlich indicated that there had, indeed, “been discussions and continue to be discussions with the VA.”  What a perfect solution to the issue of inpatient care for our veterans!  A separate wing could be dedicated to housing inpatient care for our veterans, and personnel experienced in working with veterans could staff the wing.

Parkview decision-makers should be encouraged to work with the VA to take advantage of this golden opportunity to help our area veterans by resolving the ultimate issue involved – where will our veterans go for inpatient care?

VA Hospital grounds in Fort Wayne, IN




About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Fort Wayne, Veterans, Veterans Administration, Veterans for Better Health Care and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. john b. kalb says:

    Charlotte – The only problem with your suggestion is that one of trhe main reasons for the Parkview move was probably because of the lack of any way to control the staph infection at the facility on Randallia. I have been told by surgeons in our town that they have not used the Randallia hospital for years due to this concern – witness the auxilliary surgery sites that have grown up over the last 15 years. My last three surgeries have been at one of these sites on Lake Avenue or at the Dupont Surgery Center – each time because the surgeon would not use a Parkview Randallia operating room.

  2. John:

    If that is the case, then how will they justify keeping 120 beds, plus the surgical, medical, outpatient, and the 24-7 emergency departments as noted above. I attended Karen Goldner’s second district quarterly meeting last month because speakers from Parkview were attending. They said they are leaving a number of units functioning at the Randallia campus.

  3. Ashley says:

    Hi Charlotte,

    I don’t see any contact info on your site – could you shoot me an email? I work for a non-profit that does consumer advocacy. We work on issues like food safety and election spending in our campaigns. I’d like to send you news tips when we have something that you and your readers might find interesting! For instance – this week we are getting the word out that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce might be using foreign money in our elections. I’m sure you would agree – American elections should be paid for by American money. Hoosiers should know what’s going on!

    My email is



  4. john b. kalb says:


  5. Charlotte, as a veteran I would rather see all VA hospitals close. I have been a victim of this system for 30+ years. A lot of doctors do not care about the patients. However, the single largest problem is not the building, but the lack of doctors. Try scheduling an appointment with a doctor for pain in any part of the body. You call the tele nurse and they give you mostly lip service. The last time I went to the ER room at their urgency. Sure enough the VA doctors had me on so many medications with none speaking with the others and no one checking if they were all compatible.

    Having more access to space does nothing for care. My doctor is only available every other two weeks. This means I can only see him on when he is not scheduled to work the impatient ward. But since there are so many veterans (90% non service connected) getting an appointment scheduled within 8 weeks is a miracle.

    Even if your doctor requests a consult with audiology, cardiology, neurology or any other ology, the appointment can be months if not years.

    As a service connected veteran, close the VA system and provide a card to each service connected veteran to see a doctor of their choice.

  6. mark says:

    Sorry, Charlotte, your proposal would run afoul of the Fort Wayne smoking ordinance, which is much more important to “health” than medical care for veterans.

  7. Mark:

    Could you explain your comment? How does the smoking ordinance tie into a veterans’ wing?


  8. mark says:

    Simple. VA hospitals allowing smoking outside, on hospital grounds. We don’t here in Crawfordtown. The VA would either have to change it’s policy (it won’t) or we would have to change the ordinance.

    The current VA facility is fed owned on Fed land. When Dr.Crawford came calling to demand they follow his ordinance and shut down the little smoking hut, the VA told him o take his silly City ordinance and get the hell off of federal property.

  9. Mark:

    Thanks for the explanation. But if the veterans go into area hospitals, the same thing will happen. They would be covered by the VA insurance, but they would be in local hospitals and would have to follow the city ordinance.

    Either way something has to change.

  10. iceironman says:

    I would agree with Mr. Larsen. Special hospitals for the return of injured vets must exist, and be the best in the world. Better than the Cleveland Clinc (private). Walter Reid should be spotless with staff and the latest equipment, but it is govt opperated so…. My father in law would just assume go to the nearest hospital. He has to wait in unbearable lines, the people are rude, he has to travel long distances, and to top it off, the govt reimburses for milage, a wait of about an hour in line to fill in that paperwork nighmare also ensues. I think the folks that fight letting VA members chose private care or VA care are in the same boat as those of us against the health care plan of the by OBAMA. Everyone knows if you give vets the choice of private or VA, the VA numbers would drop so much the VA could not exist. Same thing with Obama care, companies cant afford the new insurance mandates so they turn everyone over to the govt dole, thus I lose my freedom to choose.

    I also dont understand your statement that the private sector “veterans can be placed in the general hospital population in a hospital of their choosing with individuals who have no experience dealing with veterans’”

    How many nurses know anything about vets?? How many VA doctors served in actual combat. I think you are thinking the VA is a gathering place for vets to clear their minds, it is not. There are other groups for that. I would bet a returning soldier from Iraq has more in common with the folks at a private hospital than with those in a VA in an outside community where they are a number. In a town the size of Columbia City, everyone would know the injured soldier when he walks in the door and greets him as a hero and treated with respect. Send the same guy to Ft. Wayne or Indy, not so much.

    Side note, why did you post Ashleys comments on the chamber of commerce? This was all the dems had against the GOP with 3 weeks to go? From CBS

    “This part about foreign money, that appears to be peanuts,” said CBS chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer. “Mr. Axelrod, do you have any evidence that it’s anything other than peanuts?”

    “Well, do you have any evidence that it’s not, Bob?” the White House adviser replied. “The fact is that the Chamber has asserted that, but they won’t release any information about where their campaign money is coming from.”

    This despite The New York Times looking into the Chamber’s practices and concluding that “there is little evidence that what the Chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents.”

    All of the above from CBS.

    Why does the Whitehouse want a list of the donors to the Chamber, because they didnt support his big healthcare plan. Both groups take money from anyone anywhere, they are whores. I thought obama was the man of change. Politics as usual.

    We have an economio “crisis” and this is all the whitehouse wants to talk about?

    Just in case Ashley might read this, you can waste other peoples money on another project now that I have cleared this up in under 1 minute of research.

  11. Ice:

    Many of the workers at VA hospitals have served and have an understanding of veterans’ issues.

    Many of the private institutions don’t want to worry about taking in veterans on a regular basis since they are limited to a specific amount of payment and the time lag in payment. Veterans’ costs are a government responsibility as part of the guarantee for serving.

    You are wrong about the treatment of veterans at our Fort Wayne hospital. I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard friends or other individuals complain about the goofs at non-military hospitals or the care that is received.

    This is going to happen in any system because no system is perfect.

    The VA is a gathering place for veterans – not to clear their minds but because of comradery. When Souder held his rally two or three years ago in Auburn to answer questions about what was happening with the local VA issue, we had a turnout of around 300 veterans. These veterans spoke in favor of keeping our VA inpatient unit open. They did not want to go to area hospitals or to Lansing or Indy. Not one veteran stood up and said he or she preferred to close the unit and go to an area hospital.

    The VA is maintaining outpatient care through a CBOC to be built in a couple of years, so it really is inpatient care that is the issue.

    Perhaps a soldier in a small community would have that support, but many individuals do not understand the types of injuries impacting our returning veterans. Why do people join groups that focus on certain topics? For instance, parents who have lost children will often join a support group of other parents who have lost children. Why? Because the parents have something in common.

    Why do any of us join groups that reflects our traumas or our beliefs? For the same reason. This applies to veterans and why it is important to keep them in an environment where workers have an understanding of their issues and where they can talk to other veterans and express their concerns.

  12. iceironman says:

    I bet less than 10% of VA workers are vets. Even less have seen combat.

    Back to the point–Give them the right to chose. Libs should understand this quite well. If my father in law doesnt want the crappy local VA, let him chose. If he wants to seek councel for wartime issues, he can join a group.

    I would also beg to differ on the locals not wanting vets. My neighbors are doctors and they would welcome vets, and even GIVE their time. Wouldnt Hayhurst (if he didnt why not)? I bet even more Dr’s would open thier practices to vets, if the govt would grant them immunity to lawsuits like all va drs have. But dont worry about lawsuits, they are not important on the cost of medical treatment.

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