If things go on plan, this Friday West Suburban Medical Center will be operating under new ownership. Considering the alternatives, this is very good news for Oak Park, River Forest and the West Side.

However, assuming it takes over this week — and we are waiting for a bankruptcy court in Texas to rule Tuesday afternoon, after our print deadline — then the newly created Resilience Healthcare will become the sixth owner of this critical institution since 1996. That is stunning instability for a community hospital even in a national health-care environment that has been disrupted in myriad ways over the past two decades. 

We worry.

Most immediately our concern is that Pipeline Health Systems, the outgoing owner, was willing to turn over operations of West Sub and its sibling hospital Weiss Memorial in Uptown, before there was an actual agreement on the sale of the actual medical facilities and the associated real estate. Suggests to us that the ongoing financial losses at these two hospitals were staggering to Pipeline, even after it declared bankruptcy in late October, directly because it did not have a deal to sell its two Illinois hospitals. Also suggests that the two men who spun up Resilience for the purpose of this acquisition are working to drive a hard bargain on the real estate.

Good for them, assuming they have the financial wherewithal to both sustain the hospitals, invest in them, and most critically, have the vision to operate two safety-net hospitals. 

After nearly a century of proud independent operation as a community hospital, West Sub has become a basket case since it was sold in 1996 to Loyola Medical. Since then we have seen Resurrection, Vanguard, Tenet, Pipeline and now Resilience. In a Chicago market where there has been enormous consolidation of hospital ownership with Rush, Loyola, Northwestern and the University of Chicago snapping up local institutions, it is not good news that none of them have come calling for West Sub.

West Suburban is as critical today as it has been in its century-plus service to the Greater West Side. Its future is not assured. So now we wait, hopefully not for long, to hear from Manoj Prasad, the lead person in crafting this acquisition. 

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