Friday, March 15, 2019 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
An area lawmaker is urging residents to voice their opposition to the proposed closing of Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park. Last month, the hospital’s new owners, California-based Pipeline Health, announced that they plan on closing the facility just two weeks after purchasing it.
State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th), whose district includes many of the hospital’s patients and who is also a Westlake trustee, released a statement on March 15 urging residents to call and submit letters to the Health Facilities and Services Review Board.
The Review Board is the state agency that handles applications for purchasing and closing hospitals. Pipeline is hoping that the agency signs off on their application soon, so that it can close Westlake later this year.
“The way that our community has come together to fight Westlake’s closure has been an inspiration,” Welch said. “By sending a letter and calling [the Review Board] opposing the closing of Westlake Hospital we can continue our joint fight to protect access to health care in our neighborhoods.”
Welch said that residents can send letters to the Review Board, located at 525 W. Jefferson St. in Springfield. The state representative added that his office has a template letter that residents may sign. To receive a copy of the letter contact Welch’s office by phone at (708) 450-1000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Additionally, Welch is encouraging residents to voice their opposition to Westlake’s closure by calling HFSRB at (217) 782-3516,” Welch stated. “All public comments must be received by close of business on April 10.”
Welch and other lawmakers have expressed anger with Pipeline officials, who they said assured them that they would continue operating the hospital.
Earlier this month, the village of Melrose Park filed a lawsuit against Pipeline and its affiliated entities, claiming that the owners engaged in fraud and conspiracy during the process of purchasing the nearly century-old Melrose Park institution.
On Friday, the Illinois House’s Appropriations-Human Services Committee held a hearing about the community impact of the closing. On Monday, the Review Board held a similar hearing in Melrose Park.
“My office has received a lot of calls from residents wanting to help us keep Westlake open,” Welch stated. “I strongly urge residents to join our fight to protect Westlake by contacting [the Review Board] to let them know the negative impact that Westlake’s closure will have on our community.” VFP
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