* CBS 2…
Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park appears to be saved again, at least temporarily, after a series of back-and fourth court rulings over the future of the hospital.
Last week, a Cook County judge blocked the hospital’s owners, Pipeline Health, from moving forward with plans to close the facility. When the company allegedly violated that order, another judge ordered them to restore nearly all hospital services or face daily fines of $200,000.
On Thursday, an Illinois Appellate Court panel tossed out the first judge’s temporary restraining order against Pipeline Health, stating Melrose Park had no standing to seek the TRO.
Hours later, the Illinois Supreme Court put the restraining order back in place, giving Melrose Park an opportunity to file an appeal by Friday afternoon.
The decisions Thursday followed months of an escalating drama over the future of the 230-bed hospital, particularly in the last couple weeks as the sides have battled one another in court over whether the hospital should be allowed to cut services earlier than expected.
Pipeline Health bought Westlake, West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park and Louis A. Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago, for $70 million in January. Pipeline pledged at the time to save the hospitals. Just weeks after that purchase, Pipeline stunned community leaders, saying it would close Westlake by July because financial losses exceeded projections, threatening to drag down the other two hospitals.
Melrose Park sued Pipeline and its leaders, accusing them of lying about their intention to close Westlake, so they wouldn’t face opposition while seeking approval from a state review board to buy the hospitals.
Last week, Pipeline announced it would suspend many services at Westlake early, saying staffing had dropped to unsafe levels. Melrose Park sought and received a temporary restraining order to stop Pipeline from cutting services early, at least until after a state review board could consider Pipeline’s application to close the hospital. A Cook County Circuit Court judge found Pipeline in contempt of court for violating that order Tuesday and ordered Pipeline to restore most services at the hospital by Thursday morning.
On Wednesday, Pipeline offered to give the hospital to Melrose Park — a move that the village called a “stunt.”
Pipeline Health, the new owners of Westlake, had been held in contempt of court Tuesday for violating the restraining order. The company had until Thursday morning to restore service or run the risk of being fined $200,000 a day.
“We believe when the entire Illinois Supreme Court reviews the case, it will agree with today’s earlier decision: The Village of Melrose Park has no standing,” Pipeline CEO Jim Edwards said in a statement Thursday evening. […]
“Before Pipeline purchased the hospital, it promised — under penalty of perjury — to keep Westlake open and to continue providing charity care to the community,” Ari Scharg, the village’s attorney, said.
Last month, a lawsuit was filed by the village against Pipeline, accusing the California-based company of fraud. That case is still pending.
* ABC 7…
The Illinois State Health Facilities and Services Review Board is expected to make a decision about whether the hospital will stay open for good by April 30.