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Lafayette hospitals: ‘We’re exhausted.’ Wabash Twp. trustee court drama, one more round
A new joint message from Lafayette’s hospitals, with help from mayors, pleads for vaccinations: ‘We need your support.’ Plus, former fire chief latest to sue Wabash Twp. Trustee Jennifer Teising
A little of this and a little of that to start the week …
HOSPITALS SPREAD THE MESSAGE: ‘WE’RE EXHAUSTED:’ Schanna Lawinger, a registered nurse at Franciscan Health, looks the part when she looks into the camera for a new video plea from Lafayette’s hospital strained by the latest COVID-19 surge and says: “We’re exhausted.”
For weeks, the top doctors at Franciscan Health and IU Health Arnett, Lafayette’s two main hospitals, have been pleading with people to get vaccinated, wear masks and take other precautions to keep a Delta variant-fueled rise in cases from overwhelming their ability, with staffing shortages, to care for patients of all kinds.
This week, the hospitals took another approach, issuing a 30-second public service announcement featuring nurses and doctors, along with Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski, West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis and Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh.
In it, they take turns telling about a health care system in crisis, how cases are featuring patients younger and sicker than they had been in earlier stages of the pandemic and encouraging people to get vaccinated.
“The Delta variant is different than what we faced before,” Dr. Chris Mansfield of IU Health Arnett said.
Lisa Decker, a Franciscan Health spokeswoman, said the joint statement came from meetings between the two hospitals and local leaders and CEOs “to let them know our challenges.”
As of Friday, the hospitals were full, with COVID-related numbers looking like this:
Franciscan Health: 27 positive cases; 12 of those in the intensive care unit and eight of those on ventilators.
IU Health Arnett: 33 positive cases; seven of those were in intensive care and two were on ventilators at the Lafayette hospital. IU Health’s Frankfort hospital had two positive COVID patients. White Memorial Hospital had five.
Statewide, 2,108 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, as of Friday’s state health department report. Those were admission numbers last seen in mid-January, as Indiana was coming off its biggest surge in the winter and seemed to be getting things under control as vaccines started to come online for the general public.
For context, Dr. Kris Box, the state’s health commissioner, said Friday that Indiana was heading into what she called the darkest period of the pandemic and that things would get worse over the next few weeks before they got better.
Tippecanoe County posted 96 new COVID-19 cases in Friday’s update from the state. That came after 102 cases a day earlier. The rolling seven-day average was 74, as of Friday, according to the state. One month earlier, that average was 30. Two months earlier, it was eight.
“We need your support,” Danny Robertson, a physical therapist at Franciscan Health, says in the video.
“Now, more than ever,” Lawinger said.
Here’s the message, in full:
ANOTHER FIREFIGHTER TAKES AIM AT WABASH TRUSTEE JENNIFER TEISING: For the second time in a week, a former Wabash Township firefighter sued Township Trustee Jennifer Teising, saying he wants his job back along with other compensation. This time it came from Ed Ward, the former Wabash Township fire chief, who was fired in December 2020.
In court documents filed Thursday in Tippecanoe Circuit Court, Ward claims Teising fired him out of retaliation, after he communicated with township board members in October 2020 when they asked about the whereabouts of Teising. Teising had sold her West Lafayette home in June 2020, a move that eventually led to questions about her legal residence in the township. (Teising faces criminal charges tied to collecting her trustee paycheck while allegedly living outside the township.)
Ward’s lawsuit claims Teising fired him the same week he went to the State Board of Accounts and to the Tippecanoe County prosecutor with concerns that the trustee did not live in the township. Ward claims his job was terminated in violation of Indiana’s whistleblower protection laws.
Ward also claims defamation – that Teising “communicated false and misleading statements” about him. Ward claims Teising told people he had hacked her cellphone to illegally track her location, that he’d broken into the trustee’s office and stole files, that he “had a history of issues with women” and “reporting to a female supervisor” and that he had threatened Teising “and caused her to feel unsafe.”
Ward’s lawsuit requests his job back, unspecified punitive damages and an injunction against Teising from making defamatory remarks about him.
Contacted this week, Teising referred questions to the township’s attorney, Ray Biederman. Biederman did not immediately respond for comment. Ward also did not immediately respond for comment about the lawsuit.
In another lawsuit filed Aug. 19, Joe Wade, one of three Wabash Township firefighters Teising let go June 29 over long-term budget concerns, asked for his job to be reinstated, along with back pay. Wade argued that Teising was the “de facto trustee,” not in a position to make personnel decisions after she “forfeited her office as Wabash Township Trustee by not residing in Wabash Township.”
As of Friday, Teising had not formally responded to either lawsuit, according to court records. No court hearings had been set, either.
In June, the Wabash Township Firefighters Assn. filed a lawsuit asking for a temporary injunction to prevent the layoffs at the end of that month. Tippecanoe Circuit Judge Sean Persin ruled the association didn't have standing to claim Teising had "abdicated" her position. The firefighters later withdrew that lawsuit.
Earlier this week, Tippecanoe Superior 5 Judge Kristen McVey denied Teising’s request for a change of venue and a special prosecutor in her criminal case. That case, including 21 felony counts of theft, has its next status hearing Sept. 10.
Here’s more on the Wabash Township situation:
GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD NEWS, ED ASNER: A quick thread, on the death of Ed Asner, for an interview I think about every time I make an appointment for a physical.
Here’s that Q&A in the J&C, ahead of Asner’s 2017 stop at the Long Center in downtown Lafayette. It was … something else: Ed Asner wants to know about your prostate.
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