Cook County state’s attorney joins fight to keep Westlake Hospital open

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Supporters of Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park were expected to make a last-ditch effort Friday to keep the hospital open | via Facebook

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is jumping into the battle to keep Westlake Hospital open.

Foxx’s office on Friday filed an emergency motion in Cook County Circuit Court to join Melrose Park in seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent Pipeline Health from winding down patient services at the hospital.

The filing comes a day after the Illinois Appellate Court reversed a TRO granted to Melrose Park by the circuit court; the appellate court had ruled the village had no standing to seek the TRO, but state’s attorney or Illinois attorney general could.

However, the Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the restraining order late Thursday.

“We stand with the patients and staff of Westlake Hospital and the community it serves,” Foxx said in a statement. “We will not stand idly by while private investors profit from shuttering a hospital in violation of their promises.”

Foxx’s office also filed an emergency motion asking permission to intervene as an additional plaintiff and declare Pipeline’s handling of Westlake violated the Health Facilities Planning Act.

Foxx argued in the motion that the premature closing of the hospital would have a “devastating” impact on Melrose Park.

“Closing Westlake Hospital is the equivalent of ripping a hundred-year-old tree out by the roots,” the motion read. “The effects of the closure will be felt widely and in places both anticipated and not.”

Melrose Park has battled with Pipeline ever since Pipeline announced in February it would close the hospital. The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board is expected to consider a petition to close Westlake Hospital at a meeting later this month.

Pipeline, a California-based health care network, bought Westlake Hospital, 1225 W. Lake St. in Melrose Park, in January. It was one of three Chicago-area hospitals Tenet Healthcare sold to Pipeline Health and TWG Partners, a health care investment firm founded by Eric Whitaker.

Whitaker, a close friend of former President Barack Obama, served as director of Illinois Department of Public Health and executive vice president and associate dean at the University of Chicago Medicine.

“We are pleased that the Cook County State’s Attorney is stepping up to ensure that Pipeline follows the law in Illinois,” said Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico. “The communities around Westlake Hospital deserve due process and we will continue to hold Pipeline’s feet to the fire.”

Pipeline took no issue with the emergency motion.

“We welcome the involvement of the State’s Attorney because the record will show that Pipeline Health has followed the rules, is acting in the interest of patient safety and cleaning up the financial mess created by Westlake Board Chairman and state Rep. Chris Welch,” Pipeline’s spokesman Dennis Culloton said in a statement.

Welch and Pipeline executives have been in a bitter dispute since the hospital changed ownership. Welch has accused Pipeline of deceiving the community.

“Foxx is stepping up to ensure access to health care for poor black and brown communities,” Welch said. “She clearly has the standing to do it.”

Both sides are due back in court Monday.


Courts go back and forth on keeping Westlake Hospital open

Westlake Hospital offered to Melrose Park; village balks

• Westlake Hospital saved from closing, for now

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