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Judge orders Westlake Hospital to remain open — for now

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

Melrose Park’s last-ditch efforts to halt the closing of Westlake Hospital have worked, at least for now, thanks to a new temporary restraining order.

Village attorneys were in court Friday for a hearing on their new lawsuit, which seeks a review of the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board’s decision to allow Westlake to close. The board voted unanimously Tuesday to approve Pipeline Health’s application to close the hospital, at 1225 W. Lake St. in Melrose Park.

The village asked the court to put the board’s decision on hold pending judicial review.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Anna Loftus received the case documents only an hour before the hearing, and wanted more time to consider the facts before ruling.

Loftus issued a restraining order that will expire Tuesday, the day both sides will return to court. After the board voted Tuesday, Pipeline had begun winding down services at the facility; the restraining order will put a halt to that process.

Loftus is new to the Westlake controversy; the village and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx also are plaintiffs in a separate lawsuit accusing Pipeline of fraud; that lawsuit was filed in March.

“We will continue fighting Pipeline’s attempts to close Westlake Hospital,” said Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico in a statement. “We urge Pipeline to turn the hospital over to a receiver who can secure a buyer for Westlake Hospital.”

A community group, West Suburban Action Project, and village officials were concerned that without court intervention the hospital would have closed by Friday afternoon.

Ari Scharg, an attorney for Melrose Park, said Pipeline officials had “emailed all medical staff and told them that all patients must be transferred out by 4 p.m. because the hospital is closing.”

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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