Judge orders Illinois hospital to restore services or face fines

A Cook County Circuit Court judge has ordered Pipeline Health to restore services at Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park, Ill., by April 18 or face a fine of $200,000 a day, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

Citing a staff shortage, Los Angeles-based Pipeline suspended services at Westlake Hospital on April 9 and gave employees a 60-day notice of closure. Pipeline's plan to immediately shut down the hospital was put on hold when Cook County Circuit Court Judge Eve Reilly granted the village of Melrose Park a temporary restraining order to prevent Pipeline from closing the hospital, cutting services or laying off workers until May 1.

Hospital staff members told several local media outlets that Pipeline continued to lay off employees and haul medical equipment off site, despite the court order. In response, the village of Melrose Park filed an emergency motion asking for Pipeline to be held in contempt of court for allegedly disregarding the temporary restraining order.

Lawyers representing Pipeline said during the hearing April 16 that all essential services were open at Westlake Hospital. Despite the claim that the hospital was open, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Moshe Jacobius found Pipeline in contempt of the temporary restraining order.

Regarding the ruling, a Pipeline spokesperson issued the following statement to the Chicago Sun Times: "While we respectfully disagree with the judge's ruling today, we will take every step necessary to protect patients and their safety."

On April 17, Pipeline offered to hand over control of the hospital to the village of Melrose Park, according to CBS Chicago

"Although Westlake's public representatives have seemingly been content to disinvest in Westlake for years, now is their chance to put their money where their mouth is," Pipeline CEO Jim Edwards said in a statement to CBS Chicago

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