Westlake Hospital must stay open while state board’s decision is reviewed

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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

A Melrose Park hospital must remain open while a court reviews the decision by a state board to allow it to close, a judge ruled Tuesday.

The village of Melrose Park had filed an emergency motion to stall the planned closing of Westlake Hospital while they appeal the decision by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to allow Pipeline Health to close the facility.

Cook County Judge Anna Loftus ruled in favor of the village, saying the hospital, at 1225 Lake St. in Melrose Park, must stay open — for now. The state board had unanimously approved Pipeline’s application last week.

That decision already has been slammed by residents and elected officials, who say the review board should have put off a decision until after a pending lawsuit against Pipeline is resolved.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker was the latest to weigh in; Monday night, he removed his two newly appointed board members, both of whom had voted against deferring the application.

“Today we have yet another great victory for low-income people of color in Melrose Park,” said Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico. “Today’s court action affirms that the rights of the people cannot be trampled on and no one, including Pipeline Health, is above the law.”

Pipeline wouldn’t comment Tuesday evening on the Loftus’ ruling.

“Our fight to save Westlake Hospital and access to health care for our community continues,” Westlake Board Chairman and state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch said. “I look forward to the review board decision being overturned down the road through a re-vote.”

Welch also hoped Pritzker’s future appointees on the state’s review board “side with the community” with any potential re-vote in the future.

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