Suburban hospital to close, 800 employees impacted

(criminalintent / Flickr)

Within two weeks of buying Westlake Hospital, its new owner announced plans to shutter the building, which has operated in west suburban Melrose Park for almost a century.

Melrose Park officials learned on Friday of Pipeline Health’s planned closure and denounced the move in a news release.

“Less than one month after Pipeline promised to keep Westlake open and vocalized the hospital’s tremendous importance as one of the only safety net hospitals in our region, they have announced that they are closing the doors,” Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico said in the statement.

Pipeline did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The motive and timeline for the closure is unclear.

Tenet Healthcare sold its last three Chicago-area hospitals in January to Pipeline Health and TWG Partners, a health care investment firm founded by Eric Whitaker in 2011.

Whitaker, a close friend of former President Barack Obama, served as director of Illinois Department of Public Health and executive vice president and associate dean at the University of Chicago Medicine.

“[T]he entire time we have been led to believe that they were going to invest in Westlake, not close it.” State Rep. and Westlake Hospital trustee Emanuel Chris Welch said in the statement.

“Tenant, Pipeline Health and Whitaker deceived the State of Illinois, the Village of Melrose Park and surrounding community members,” Welch said. “I will oppose this measure for the sake of our community. I will ask my fellow legislators to stand with me in opposition as well.”

Tenet CEO Ron Rittenmeyer said at the time that Tenet was “pleased” to sell and was confident the hospitals would have a “bright future.”

Westlake Hospital has 800 employees and has operated in the near west suburb since 1927.

Pipeline Health, a private company based in California, also purchased Weiss Hospital in Uptown and West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park.