Staff says Westlake Hospital owners violating court order

Data pix.

MELROSE PARK, Ill. — One day after a judge ruled that Westlake Hospital must stay open, at least for now, new allegations have surfaced. Some accuse the owners of violating a court order.

Tuesday a Cook County judge granted an emergency injunction and ordered Pipeline Health, the company that owns the Melrose Park hospital, to keep it open until May 1st.

As part of a temporary restraining order, Westlake Hospital cannot discontinue or modify the scope of medical service or terminate employees. It has to maintain adequate staffing, facilities, and supply levels.

But employees say that's not happening.

WGN News cameras was rolling Wednesday when a man removed what appeared to be medical equipment from the building into a loading dock.

Staff told WGN News equipment was removed throughout the day and all types of items were taken out.

Nurses and doctors also told WGN News surgeries were cancelled today, and employees are being laid off.

Mari Collins is an ICU nurse at the hospital.

“ (Some employees) were asked to turn in their badges at the end of the shift today and transfer their patients,” she said. “That is in violation of the court order issued yesterday.”

Dr. Raymond McDonald has worked at the hospital for the last 43 years.

“I went to the ER and talked to one of the ER doctors who said there are four patients they were going to transfer out because they were refusing to let them go up to the floors to be treated properly,” he said.

A spokesperson for Pipeline Health released a statement saying:

"The allegations being made by the Mayor and Rep. Welch are patently false and absurd. The chaos they seek to create is wildly irresponsible and putting patient safety in jeopardy. We are following the judge’s order and reviewing our legal options."

Pipeline said because of declining staff rates, they are operating at a huge loss.

House Bill 123 passed the Illinois House Wednesday. The bill would allow the governor to reverse decisions on hospital closures and suspend any application to close a hospital until pending lawsuits over the closing are resolved.

The bill now goes to the senate.

Ari Schurg, an attorney for Melrose Park is asking hospital employees to contact him at ascharg@edelson.com. He released the following statement:

“Yesterday, we asked the court to enjoin Pipeline Health from illegally shutting down Westlake Hospital.  Despite the fact that it has hired an army of lawyers and lobbyists, Pipeline lost in court.  Rather than abide by the court’s ruling, we believe Pipeline has ‘doubled down’ and is taking dramatic steps to willfully disobey that ruling.  Today, we filed a motion seeking to hold Pipeline and the CEO of Westlake Hospital in contempt.  At the end of the day, we are a nation of laws.  And no matter how much money a private equity fund has, that does not give it the ability to trample on the rights of our citizens, let alone those who are most vulnerable.”
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