Update, 12 p.m. Wednesday:
Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch of Westchester at a press conference today said that despite the court ordering Westlake Hospital to remain open, Pipeline Health was "turning employees and staff away this morning."
Mayor Ron Serpico said he has authorized a motion to hold Pipeline in contempt.
"The allegations being made by the mayor and Rep. Welch are patently false and absurd," Pipeline spokeswoman Natalie Bauer Luce said in a statement. "The chaos they seek to create is wildly irresponsibly and putting patient safety in jeopardy. We are following the judge's order and reviewing our legal options. It's unfortunate the Mayor and Rep. Welch didn't dedicate the time and energy they are now to standing up for Westlake when the new Hospital Assessment Program was being formulated or when the Village of Melrose Park opted to rescind public funding for Westlake's redevelopment, depriving the hospital of millions of dollars in critical funding."
Update, 10 p.m. Tuesday:
Just hours after Pipeline Health said Westlake Hospital doesn't have enough staff to safely care for patients, a judge ruled the facility must remain open.
The order prohibits Pipeline from discontinuing any medical services offered at Westlake, creating conditions that change the status quo and failing to maintain facilities, staffing or supply levels.
Pipeline Health is suspending services at Westlake Hospital, the Melrose Park, Ill., facility it planned to close later this year, primarily due to declining staff rates posing patient safety risks. The move didn't surprise Melrose Park officials, who filed an injunction yesterday to prevent such a move.
The process to suspend services at 230-bed Westlake will begin immediately, Dennis Culloton, spokesman for Pipeline, said today. While the hospital will continue functioning until the last inpatient is safely discharged, patients undergoing elective procedures will have the option to move to Pipeline's West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, he added. Pipeline calls the suspension temporary, but did not disclose plans to reopen.
The owner surprised village officials in February with the bad news that it planned to close the hospital later this year, prompting outrage.
Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico said in a statement yesterday he had "strong reason" to believe Westlake Hospital would close today. The state was tentatively scheduled to rule on Pipeline's application to close the hospital at its April 30 meeting.
In the injunction, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, Melrose Park alleges Pipeline "put together a plan to make it seem to the (state's Health Facilities & Services) Review Board and the community as though the hospital is short-staffed and cannot safely care for its patients." It further alleges Pipeline has transferred staff and equipment from Westlake to its other hospitals—West Suburban and Weiss Memorial Hospital in Uptown, which it also owns—and suggested staff should find new because departments would close ahead of schedule.
Culloton said in a statement: "We are seeing unacceptable risks to patient care. In certain cases, medical staff have not reported for duty. Critical roles in the emergency room and intensive care unit have been covered by registry nurses from outside agencies unfamiliar with the hospital procedures. The conditions have recently forced the hospital to declare a bypass in the emergency room because of inadequate staffing levels in the ICU. Remaining staff have been working unacceptably long shifts. In Labor and Delivery, Westlake has lost 25 percent of its nurses."
He did not know how many of Westlake's 600 employees remain at the hospital. He said there were 73 inpatients as of this morning.
"Our utmost priority is safety and quality of patient care," Pipeline CEO Jim Edwards said in a statement. "With declining staffing rates and more attrition expected, a temporary suspension of services is necessary to assure safe and sufficient operations. This action is being taken after considering all alternatives and with the best interest of our patients in mind."
Pipeline bought Westlake, West Suburban and Weiss Memorial from Tenet for $70 million earlier this year. In the company's closure application to the state, it noted Westlake has been operating at a "significant loss" since at least 2015, and that "continuing operations will impair Pipeline's ability to be successful in the greater Chicago market."
Melrose Park filed a lawsuit against the hospital owner in the Circuit Court of Cook County last month, alleging that Pipeline promised the hospital would remain open following the purchase from Tenet Project Japan. The village is seeking damages and a declaration that the defendants defrauded the village and the state.
Sources say the Illinois Health Facilities & Services Review Board typically does not rule on matters when there is pending litigation.
Meanwhile, a bill introduced last month would allow the governor to reverse hospital closure decisions by the board and ensure such decisions would be suspended if there is a pending lawsuit.
Westlake is about 4 miles from 234-bed West Suburban and less than 2 miles from Loyola Medicine's 222-bed Gottlieb Memorial Hospital. Weiss has 236 beds.
Los Angeles-based Pipeline's vice chair and principal is Chicagoan Dr. Eric Whitaker. He's best known as the founder of Chicago-based health care investment firm TWG Partners, which was previously involved in the hospital purchase with Pipeline, and as a friend of former President Barack Obama.
originally appeared in .