* 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.