Illinois can't stop hospital from closing: 6 things to know

Illinois isn't able to do much to stop the planned closure of a Chicago area hospital, despite disapproval from the community, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

Six things to know:

1. Pipeline Health, a Los Angeles-based privately held hospital ownership and management company, purchased Melrose Park, Ill.-based Westlake Hospital in January and plans to close the 230-bed facility by July.

2. When Pipeline Health sought state approval to buy Westlake Hospital, the company pledged to "continue to operate for the benefit of the residents of Chicago and the greater Chicago area, including serving poor and underserved individuals through Westlake's charitable activities," according to the Tribune, which cites Pipeline Health's application to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board.

3. But experts told the publication the state can do little to stop a planned Westlake Hospital closure due to a law change. Previously, the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board could reportedly deny applications seeking hospital closures. But a 2015 law change now stipulates that the board is required to approve such applications if owners meet certain criteria, according to Courtney Avery, the board's administrator.

4. Current law does allow the state board to hold a public hearing about a potential hospital closure, if requested, the report states. Illinois Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, D-Westchester, who previously served on the hospital's board of trustees, told the Tribune community members and leaders plan to make such a request, and legal action could be taken.

5. The decision to close Westlake Hospital has reportedly prompted surprise and disapproval from community leaders, who pointed to the hospital's crucial role in serving a largely minority community. 

6. Chicagoan Eric Whitaker, MD, a part-owner of Pipeline Health, previously defended the closure decision, telling the Tribune that closing Westlake Hospital will help keep two the company's other area hospitals — Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago and West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, Ill. — sustainable.



More articles on healthcare finance:

1 in 5 rural hospitals at high risk of closing, analysis finds
National healthcare groups urge Congress to delay Medicaid disproportionate share hospital cuts
3 hospital revenue cycle leaders predict how price transparency will affect healthcare


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