MELROSE PARK, Ill. — A suburban hospital is set to close despite months of protests and legal battles.
A judge was set to hear an emergency motion Friday to block Westlake Hospital from shutting down, but postponed his ruling to next Wednesday.
The emergency motion comes after reports that the hospital's owner attempted to empty out the facility, days after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Documents filed in Cook County Circuit Court revealed the hospital started transferring patients Wednesday.
Westlake’s last patients are expected to leave and doors are set to officially close by 3 p.m. Friday.
The village of Melrose Park and Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx filed the motion to hold the owners of Westlake in contempt of court for violating the May 7 order which prohibited the owners from taking steps to close the hospital.
In court Friday, a village lawyer asked for monetary sanctions against Westlake owner, SRC Hospital Investments, for the move. The lawyer told the judge they believe there is no debate, the order is clearly undermining the power of the court.
Lawyers for the hospital owners argued, there is nothing SRC can do and that Westlake's assists are now under the control of a bankruptcy trustee. They accuse Melrose Park for interfering with the bankruptcy case.
The judge declined to make a decision to hold the owners of Westlake in contempt of court Friday, saying the court may re-consider it next week after a separate hearing on the hospital's bankruptcy case in Delaware.
The hearing for the contempt of court issue is scheduled for Aug. 14.
The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board approved Westlake's closure this past spring, but that decision is now under review.
California-based owner Pipeline Health announced plans in February to shut down Westlake, shortly after buying the hospital. Pipeline says Westlake is losing nearly $3 million a month, and there are no potential buyers. The hospital has filed for bankruptcy.
Many Melrose Park residents say Westlake's closure would cause irreparable harm, hurting lower income patients.
In joining the village of Melrose Park's effort, the State's Attorney's office released the following statement:
“We joined this vital litigation to protect the rights of the patients and staff of Westlake Hospital and to ensure a continuity of care in the event of a closure. Despite best efforts and legal intervention, vulnerable residents are now facing an abrupt halt in medical services,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. “Those most affected should have been given more respect than a letter days before the hospital is set to close. All county residents deserve access to healthcare and justice regardless of their zip code, economic status, or race. We will continue to advocate through affirmative litigation for safe, healthy communities on behalf of all citizens in Cook County.”
Foxx also said the people affected by the closure deserve more respect than a letter days before the hospital is set to close.
WGN has not yet received a response from Pipeline.