Pipeline Health seeks to invest in outpatient care with request to close suburban Chicago hospital

Pipeline Health, a Los Angeles-based privately held hospital ownership and management company, plans to invest $2.5 million or more in outpatient care in Melrose Park, Ill., after the closure of a hospital there, according to Crain's Chicago Business.

The plans were revealed in Pipeline Health's state application to close Melrose Park-based Westlake Hospital.

The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board reportedly has planned a public hearing in March and is expected to decide on Pipeline Health's closure request on April 30.

Pipeline Health purchased Westlake Hospital, Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago and West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, Ill., in January from Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare. Earlier this month, the company confirmed it is requesting state approval to close Westlake Hospital by July.

In its application requesting the closure, Pipeline Health cites the hospital's financial struggles, as well as declining inpatient admissions and fewer outpatient visits. The application states that the facility "is not economically feasible, and continuing operations will impair Pipeline's ability to be successful in the greater Chicago market," according to Crain's.

Pipeline Health's application also reportedly says it plans to invest at least $2.5 million over five years to enhance outpatient care at clinics such as PCC Melrose Park Family Health Center, which is in Westlake Hospital's professional office building in Melrose Park near the hospital.

Crain's reported that grant money would go toward services such as primary care, behavioral health, substance abuse treatment, prenatal care, diabetes treatment support and dental care. Pipeline Health said it also would provide shuttle service from the Westlake campus to West Suburban for two years or more after the closure.

Pipeline Health said it would put the hospital campus up for sale and that "some or all of the improvements on the campus will be demolished in connection with such a sale," according to Crain's.

Additionally, the company has indicated plans to consolidate some services now offered at Westlake Hospital with West Suburban Medical Center if the closure is approved.

Chicagoan Eric Whitaker, MD, a part-owner of Pipeline Health, previously told the Chicago Tribune the closure will help keep Weiss Memorial Hospital and West Suburban Medical Center sustainable.

But Illinois Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, D-Westchester, along with community members, have spoken out against the closing Westlake, citing its crucial role in serving a largely minority community. 

Mr. Welch did not immediately respond to a request from Crain's to comment on Pipeline Health's decision to invest in outpatient care in Melrose Park.



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