Westlake Hospital closure approved by state review board

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. (WLS) -- The State of Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board voted unanimously to approve a plan to close Westlake Hospital in suburban Melrose Park.

Members heard hours of public comment Tuesday about why the hospital should remain open, but said that by law they were required to approve hospital owner Pipeline Health's request to close the facility.

Earlier Tuesday, the board voted 4 - 3 not to defer a decision on whether to close Westlake even though there is at least one pending lawsuit filed in connection with the proposal that remains unresolved. Board rules require at least five affirmative votes in order for a motion to carry.

Last week, a judge let a temporary restraining order stand against Pipeline Health that prevented the 230-bed hospital in Melrose Park from closing.

The new hospital owners are accused of promising to keep the hospital open for two years, then after purchasing it, quickly moved to sell it.

Community outrage prompted the village of Melrose Park to file a lawsuit accusing Pipeline of acquiring the hospital under false pretenses. Several elected officials are now calling on the Illinois attorney general to get involved.

Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico said in a written statement: "It's a shame that the Health Facilities Review Board couldn't find the courage to do the right thing for the most vulnerable people," said Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico. "It's also puzzling that the board would so flagrantly disregard their own rules. As a result of their action we are calling today on Attorney General Kwame Raoul to investigate the Health Facilities Services and Review Board decision to approve Pipeline Health's fraudulent purchase and closing of Westlake Hospital. Was there a nod and a wink between Pipeline and members of the Health Facilities Review Board? We call on the Attorney General to get to the bottom of this scandalous action. We're also disappointed that Governor Pritzker - who claims to support health care for low income families - today appointed new members to the Health Facilities Review Board and neither of them stood up for health care access in our community," said Serpico. "The actions of these newly appointed members call into question the validity of their votes since they are yet to be confirmed by the senate."

Attorneys for Melrose Park said they will appeal the decision.

READ: Letter to Pipeline from Durbin, Duckworth and Garcia

READ: Letter from Pipeline to Mayor Ron Serpico
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