An area legislator is urging residents to voice their opposition to the proposed closure of Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park. Last month, the hospital’s new owners, California-based Pipeline Health, announced their plan to shutter the facility just two weeks after purchasing it.
State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th), whose district includes many served by the hospital 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 the agency signs off on their application soon, so that it can close Westlake later this year.
“The way 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], we can continue our joint fight to protect access to health care in our neighborhoods.”
Welch said residents can send letters to the Review Board, located at 525 W. Jefferson St. in Springfield. The state rep 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 call HFSRB at 217-782-3516. He said, “All public comments must be received by close of business on April 10.”
Welch and other lawmakers expressed anger with Pipeline officials, who they said assured them they would continue operating the hospital.
Earlier this month, the village of Melrose Park filed a lawsuit against Pipeline and its affiliated entities, claiming the owners engaged in fraud and conspiracy during the process of purchasing the nearly century-old Melrose Park institution.
On Friday, the Illinois House 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 said. “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.”