Workers and Community Advocates Call a “Code Blue” on the Hospital Industry for Incessant Focus on Profits and Willingness to Abandon the Melrose Park Community and Low-Income Families Who Rely on Medicaid
(April 29th, 2019, Chicago) – Hospital workers testified this morning at a public hearing to call for Westlake Hospital to remain open after its parent company, Pipeline, attempted to close the facility. The safety net hospital serves the Melrose Park and Maywood area with a high Medicaid population. SEIU Healthcare called on the State to intervene if necessary to stop the closure of the hospital. SEIU represents about 1,000 union members who live in the surrounding area.
Wellington Thomas, an Emergency Department Tech at Loretto Hospital and a paramedic testified on behalf of SEIU Healthcare as an executive board member. “I am here to stand with workers and residents against this closure. People need access to a hospital, especially emergency room services. If people understood the ‘golden hour’ — the critical time of when an incident occurs until vital care is received maybe the hospital industry, and Pipeline in particular, wouldn’t make such a malicious to decision to close this hospital that will potentially harm our community.”
Anne Igoe, the Vice-President of the Health Systems Division for SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, issued the following statement:
“Healthcare workers are calling a CODE BLUE on the hospital industry based on decision by Pipeline, the parent company of Westlake Hospital, to try to shut down this safety net hospital in Melrose Park.
“We stand against any attempt to close any hospital that serves a community of color anywhere in the state, especially a facility that supports a high Medicaid population.
“We call on the hospital board of directors to defer this decision and allow the state to keep Westlake Hospital open to continue to provide vital services to those served by the Illinois’ Medicaid program.
“Based on their public statements and actions, it appears that Pipeline is stating that the company isn’t making enough money off of Medicaid and charity care and therefore are willing to shutter this hospital, regardless of the fact that patients and the community will suffer, lose access to healthcare, and have to account for enormous job losses and a blow to the local economy.
“Westlake Hospital’s patient population is estimated to be 47.68% on Medicaid – but doctors, nurses, and support staff whom we have contacted have stated that this actual number is much higher. Westlake Hospital is a safety net and should receive recognition by the state and receive the appropriate level of funding and resources.
“We urge the Hospital Review Board to defer this decision to allow the closure of Westlake Hospital.
“We also demand greater oversight by the State of Illinois over the hospital industry so that decisions to buy, sell, open and close hospitals have more public scrutiny and debate so that access to healthcare is based on the needs of a community and not made solely on the basis of a hospital’s profits.”