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Pritzker withdraws nominations after uproar over hospital closure

Monday, May 6, 2019

* Pritzker administration statement…

The administration is withdrawing the nominations of Julie Hamos and Michael Geldner to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board in order to appoint members who more closely share the governor’s vision for hospitals around the state. We appreciate their willingness to serve. The governor’s priority is to work with communities to ensure their health care needs are met.

* As you’ll recall, Hamos and Geldner both voted against delaying the closure of Westlake Hospital last week until the lawsuits that were filed to keep the hospital open could be adjudicated. After that motion to delay failed, the full board voted to allow the hospital to close

Board member Julie Hamos said Tuesday that losing hospitals is tough for communities, but she expects to see more hospitals closing in coming years as advances in medicine make inpatient care less necessary.

“We are really on the cusp of a very significant change in our health care system,” said Hamos, who was recently appointed to the board by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and is a former lawmaker. She said deferring the application would simply have shifted a decision on the matter to the courts.

* Hamos and Geldner had been appointed by Gov. Pritzker to the Health Facilities and Services Review Board not long before the vote and their action prompted an immediate denunciation from Rep. Chris Welch, who is a staunch Speaker Madigan ally and chairs the powerful House Executive Committee

Following the decision, Democratic state Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch of Westchester, who is also a member of Westlake’s board of trustees, said: “Gov. Pritzker let us down. We went to bat for him, and his appointees went to bat for billionaires from California.”

The vote took place on the first day lawmakers returned to town from a two-week break, so it was a particularly inauspicious beginning to the session’s home stretch.

* Rep. Welch’s response…

It’s a good start. He never should have appointed them in the first place. Now he needs to do more to ensure our community continues to have access to healthcare.

* Meanwhile, Rep. Welch, Rep. Kathleen Willis and Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico have penned an op-ed calling on AG Raoul to step in. Excerpt

Westlake is the only hospital in the area with a major behavioral and addictions mental health wing. Chicago’s near west suburbs are ground zero for the opium epidemic. With 50 beds in a dedicated psychiatric wing, Westlake Hospital is the main organization on the front lines of this crisis.

Newly elected Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is in a unique position.

The Village of Melrose Park has filed for a temporary restraining order that would prevent Westlake Hospital from closing. In violation of Illinois law, the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board voted last week not to defer Pipeline’s application to shut the hospital down due to pending legislation.

Melrose Park is currently suing Pipeline for fraudulently purchasing Westlake Hospital.

Raoul was elected on a platform of access to healthcare. He now has the opportunity to stop an out of state investment company from stripping healthcare access away from 40,000 low income, minority people.

The order to stay the HFSRB decision will be heard in court Tuesday.

We’re calling on Raoul to stand up for the healthcare rights of the vulnerable people who elected him to his current office.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Downstate - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 4:30 pm:

    So we’re going to require the hospital to stay open?

    What incentive does the owner have to adequately staff or supply the hospital?

    What’s the governor’s position if the hospital chooses to remove all the toilets, thus making it uninhabitable?

  2. - Responsa - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 4:42 pm:

    This is not a good look good for the Pritzker administration.

  3. - Anon - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 4:47 pm:

    Julie and Mike have my thanks for the work that they did. The timing may have been bad, but the right decision was made.

    Politicians gonna politic and that’s what’s going on here.

  4. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 4:48 pm:

    They didn’t check in with the boss or his people about his priorities before or after being appointed? Really?

  5. - Sue - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 4:53 pm:

    PGing Stuart Levine. He probably would be willing to oblige Pritzker and he has the experience

  6. - JB13 - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 4:59 pm:

    Got the wrong decision, so change the decision makers and try again? Nothing wrong with our state. Nope.

  7. - Hard D - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 5:30 pm:

    Let’s see now that’s 4 appointments that this administration has to do over. Not sure who handling these but JB is beginning to look real silly over these

  8. - Anonymous - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 6:12 pm:

    Welch’s comments about Hamos and Gelder are particularly gratuitous and vile. Each has done more in their careers for poor and underserved people than that showboat has ever done.

  9. - Trophy - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 6:18 pm:

    This is what happens when you hire unqualified people to run the governor’s office.

  10. - Da big bad wolf - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 6:20 pm:

    Pipeline upon buying the Westlake hospital promised to keep it open. Then they closed it. I have no sympathy for them.

  11. - Exhausted by Politics - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 6:27 pm:

    The Board made the right decision. The pending lawsuit alleges fraud and conspiracy. There is no request to keep the hospital buried in that complaint. Serpico is looking for fines and penalties. Westlake Hospital’s financial position is unsustainable. Where were Chris Welch, Kathleen Willis and Ron Serpico for the last 20 years? They have done nothing for the hospital. They don’t even seek their healthcare there. Now all they are doing is grandstanding. Oh and don’t forget Kim Foxx’s recent entry on to this ridiculous scene. All to the detriment of the community, the hospital and its staff.
    Very sad that the Governor caved to crazy people.
    The community will not be lacking access to healthcare with Gottlieb less than two miles away, Loyola 3 miles away and Rush Oak Park and West Suburban 4 miles away.

  12. - Blue Dog Dem - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 6:39 pm:

    Downstate is spot on. Services will be reduced to level of an urgent care facility. We in southern Illinois have seen it many times.

  13. - wordslinger - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 6:43 pm:

    In the front door, out the back window and under the bus you go in nothing flat.

    So, who wants to take credit for this FUBAR? And who wants the great honor of replacing those with the tire tracks on their backs?

    Shaky start to what’s supposed to be a very action-packed month.

  14. - Blue Dog Dem - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 6:53 pm:

    On another post, we read that a developer wants to invest(maybe),$3.8 billion transit/retail/entertainment facility. I am not in favor of this until I scrutinize the deal. But I would be inclined to favor some sort of deal to keep a legit hospital open in economically depressed neighborhoods. These deals don’t have all the glitz and glammer of a hospital deal but they should. IMO.

  15. - Blue Dog Dem - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 6:57 pm:

    …of a megadevelopment deal..

  16. - Been There - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 7:12 pm:

    I could see if they said they were closing within a year or so. They bought these hospitals and knew what they were getting into. Either they had lousy advisors who don’t know simple accounting or they lied. The last I looked hospitals have to keep pretty meticulous books just like most regulated businesses. I think they lied. They knew they were going to close it when they bought it.

  17. - Former State Employee - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 8:03 pm:

    Gelder was a “screw up” during the Quinn administration. Caused a great deal of harm. He was out of control then and clearly still is now. The difference is Pritzker at least created some consequences for his actions.

  18. - Robert - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 8:10 pm:

    Pipeline needs to do the magic it’s PR machine says it does best. If they didn’t realize what a mess Westlake was, they did not do their due diligence, I can’t believe they would be that sloppy for such a magical company. Pipeline under oath said they would NOT interfere nor close ANY of the hospitals, I don’t feel at all sorry for them but for the poor employees and patients.

  19. - Truthteller - Monday, May 6, 19 @ 9:12 pm:

    Pritzker’s mistake was in appointing Gelder and Hamos in the first place. It’s to his credit that he acted so swiftly in getting rid of them.
    The state is better off today.
    Thank you, Governor!

  20. - DuPage Bard - Tuesday, May 7, 19 @ 12:42 am:

    Bad juju all around. The Pritzker people need to get better at this.
    Appoint your members then give direction. Not very difficult.

  21. - NoGifts - Tuesday, May 7, 19 @ 8:15 am:

    If he found the nominees excellent, it’s a bad policy to cave to outside pressure every time. You can’t make everyone happy and if you try, everyone will be disappointed. OK to withdraw if there was new information about the nominee that made him a bad choice, but not just because people complain.

  22. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, May 7, 19 @ 8:32 am:

    ==So we’re going to require the hospital to stay open?==
    You don’t get to be in the driver’s seat anymore when you commit fraud.

  23. - State gate - Tuesday, May 7, 19 @ 8:46 am:

    Wow. What a loss of talent for the Pritzker administration. There are not many people who know this field as well as Julie Hamos around. Or who can handle hundreds of mind-numbing administrative and legal problems in a no-nonsense way. He will need her as our state heads into health care and long-term care crises.

  24. - Amalia - Tuesday, May 7, 19 @ 8:59 am:

    this seems like stunningly bad decision making. recalls memory of Cook County and Provident Hospital which was for years a wrong call. Think that has morphed into a clinic type of situation but the beginning of it involved a government taking over a hospital because the community said so. stupid.

  25. - No more fraud - Tuesday, May 7, 19 @ 9:34 am:

    “There are not many people who know this field as well as Julie Hamos around.”

    That’s like saying Phil Spector really is good at producing music or Bill Cosby is a good comedian. Letting Pipeline off when they defrauded a whole community negates the talent she brings to the table. I don’t know if Pritzker did this for pure reasons, it might have been political. We Illinoisans dodged a bullet. Think of the chaos and sorrow that we would endure with Geldner and Hamos and their propensity to ignore fraud right out of the gate like this.

  26. - Jean - Tuesday, May 7, 19 @ 12:59 pm:

    Maybe Westlake should focus on being a behavioral health hospital. The Chicago area certainly needs them.

  27. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, May 7, 19 @ 1:41 pm:

    ==Very sad that the Governor caved to crazy people.==

    Who are the “crazy people” here? Who buys a hospital only to close it? No legitimate business does that. If the hospital was a money pit, why buy it?
    Pipeline wanted to suppress competition. They lied about keeping it open, otherwise the seller would have sold Westlake to a legitimate business.
    Maybe Julie Hamos and Michael Geldner should get reassigned to giving flea baths in the Illinois state police kennels. That’s the closest they will ever get to watchdogs.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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