Westlake Hospital offered to Melrose Park; village balks

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Pipeline Health on Wednesday offered to turn over ownership of Westlake Hospital to the village of Melrose Park.

“If Melrose Park truly values Westlake Hospital and is so sure it can do a better job of either running this antiquated facility or finding a buyer, they should take us up on this offer,” Pipeline CEO Jim Edwards said in a statement.

The village rejected the offer outright.

Pipeline said Westlake Hospital loses about $2 million a month and the losses “threaten Pipeline’s ability to turn around its two other Chicago-area hospitals, Chicago’s Weiss Memorial Hospital and Oak Park’s West Suburban Medical Center.”

Pipeline faces a deadline Thursday morning to restore most services or face fines of $200,000 a day for violating a temporary restraining order.

At a court hearing Tuesday, Pipeline said staffing issues caused it to suspend services and any violation of the temporary restraining order happened because it was issued after it already began cutting services.

Pipeline has asked permission to close Westlake. The petition is expected to be considered April 30 at a meeting of the state Health Facilities and Services Review Board.

Melrose Park spokesman Andrew Mack said the proposal to transfer ownership was a bad-faith offer by Pipeline, which took over the hospital in February.

“Melrose Park provided Pipeline with a process to sell the hospital to one of many potentially interested buyers,” Mack said in a statement. “If Pipeline is serious about transitioning the hospital to a proper steward who will protect the community, that could be done in a matter of days.”

Mack said the village has no interest in becoming a hospital operator. Their position, he said, has always been to hold businesses accountable to the community.

“Pipeline has embarked on a dangerous path, attempting to create a situation where patients and employees will avoid Westlake,” Mack said. “Its goal in doing so is so it can then use that to justify its decision to close the hospital.”

Manny Ramos is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.

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