MELROSE PARK, Ill. (FOX 32) - Angry residents in the western suburbs today came out swinging against a medical group CEO who's planning to close their local hospital, even though the company promised to keep the facility open after buying the nearly 100-year-old hospital back in January.
"They swore under oath to keep Westlake open and we're going to hold them to their word to keep Westlake open,” said State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, 7th District.
Melrose Park residents brought out the big guns at a state board hearing that could save the facility.
"We've had a couple of suicides in the schools recently so this is the hospital that we would have brought them to for services,” said Jesse Rosas, Proviso Township Mental Health Commission Executive Director. “So taking away those resources, it's really difficult for us."
The village stands to lose the nearly 800 jobs the hospital provides.
Beth Ann Iosco is worried about her parent's care.
"Not only do they provide care, they provide healing, and if you stop and think about it, those two things are not the same but they should go together and we find that at Westlake, it is truly a community hospital,” said Iosco.
The board has until April 30 to make a decision, more than likely they'd choose to uphold the finding of the lawsuit. Inside the hearing, Westlake’s CEO argued the facility is losing millions of dollars.
"Simply put, every day we are spending money on empty hospital beds instead of patients,” said Joseph Ottolino, CEO of Westlake Hospital.
But, the crowd didn't buy it.
Pipeline health says they don't plan to shutter the entire hospital. Officials hope to keep a community wellness center open for prenatal and mental health services.
However, residents fear it won't be enough. And neighboring hospitals are too far in an emergency.