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Appeals Court Reverses Temporary Restraining Order at Westlake Hospital

An appeals court on Thursday reversed a judge’s decision ordering a temporary restraining order to keep Westlake Hospital open for the remainder of the month.

The Cook County Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Village of Melrose Park “did not have standing to request the [temporary restraining order].” 

“The Village has not identified any ascertainable rights or interest recognized by common law or statute that is at stake in this matter … the Village has not established standing,” the judges wrote in their decision.

The temporary restraining order mandated the hospital remain open until May 1 ahead of a state board hearing review about whether California-based Pipeline Health could shut down the nearly 100-year-old community hospital.

“We are pleased the appellate court has ruled in our favor, and we are now working to lift the order completely,” Pipeline Health CEO Jim Edwards said in a statement. “We need to get back to investing in patients and not buildings.”

Earlier this week, a judge ruled hospital management was in contempt of court and ordered the management to open up its departments and admit patients by 9 a.m. Thursday or face a daily fine. 

Hospital staff told NBC 5 last week that patients were being turned away, nurses laid off and medical equipment hauled off site, despite a court order mandating services remain in place through the end of the month.

Pipeline Health bought the hospital in January and weeks later announced it would close because the hospital has been losing $2 million a month.

An NBC 5 news crew watched as workers shuffled medical gear around and hauled off hospital equipment Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, in Springfield, Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico and state Rep. Chris Welch lobbied for legislation that could allow the governor to reverse the state board’s decision to shut down.

“Today’s decision by the Appellate Court does not erase the fact that Pipeline Health broke Illinois law by discontinuing services at Westlake Hospital. Melrose Park has worked tirelessly to hold Pipeline Health accountable to the law,” Serpico said in a statement. 

“Pipeline cannot be allowed to continue to break Illinois law without consequences and Melrose Park is looking at all options to hold Pipeline accountable, including requesting the Attorney General or State’s Attorney to intervene to protect health care access to the residents of Melrose Park,” he continued. “This decision absolutely does not impact the lawsuit that Melrose Park filed alleging that Pipeline purchased Westlake Hospital under fraudulent terms.”  

Meanwhile, House Bill 123, as it’s known, did pass in Springfield last week.

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