If and when the sale is approved, Pipeline will no longer own any hospitals or other healthcare facilities in Illinois.
Resilience Healthcare is a for-profit healthcare company owned by Manoj Prasad, a healthcare executive who has mainly worked as an independent consultant for community hospitals. He’s long been based in Detroit but plans to move to the Chicago-area within the month and buy a home near West Suburban Medical Center.
Prasad says he helped facilities in Michigan, Florida and Texas improve financial, clinical and cultural operations. He describes himself as a “hospital and group practice turnaround CEO” on his LinkedIn page but Prasad has no experience with hospital ownership.
New Jersey-based Rathnakar R. Patlola is the primary financial partner in Resilience and is helping to finance the firm’s purchase of West Suburban and Weiss Memorial.
Prasad said he’s been interested in buying West Suburban, which has about 174 beds, and Weiss Memorial, which has about 144 beds, for almost nine months. He wants to expand services offered at the two hospitals and stabilize them after challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Like the healthcare industry broadly, West Suburban and Weiss Memorial are suffering from a severe labor shortage. Prasad says there are more than 100 positions open at each facility.
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Prasad says he spent much of Wednesday informing local legislators and associations of his intent to buy West Suburban and Weiss Memorial. Conversations have taken place with Illinois State Rep. Greg Harris, Illinois Senator Sara Feigenholtz and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association.
“The welcome I’ve received so far, despite the history that the sellers have had in the space, is absolutely heart-warming,” Prasad said in an interview. “The last three sets of owners have all been sort of absent. I’ve been hearing that from the staff I’ve talked to.”
Pipeline originally acquired West Suburban and Weiss Memorial in 2019, along with the now-closed Westlake Hospital, in 2019 from Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare for $70 million. Pipeline came under fire weeks after the deal when it tried to close Westlake Hospital after saying at the time of the sale that it had no plans to close the facility.
The safety-net hospital later filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after a court order prevented Pipeline from discontinuing hospital services despite getting approval from the state to close. The hospital officially closed not long after and court filings later revealed Pipeline had always intended to close the facility.
Pipeline, which also owns properties in Dallas and Los Angeles, says it has invested $60 million into West Suburban and Weiss Memorial over the last three years to improve infrastructure and the technology used in the facilities. Pipeline says it has also expanded clinical programs, such as adding gender confirmation care. Much of the investment took place after new corporate leadership was put in place, the company says.
Pipeline named Andrei Soran CEO at the beginning of 2021, replacing Jim Edwards.
Soran says selling West Suburban and Weiss Memorial is "not related” to the controversy surrounding Pipeline’s closing of Westlake.
“Frankly, that was a generation ago,” Soran says. “Right now, we have a very good relationship with the communities that we serve. We’re looking to pass them to good hands.”
To demonstrate Pipeline’s commitment to the success of West Suburban and Weiss Memorial, the firm says it will refund $12 million of the sale proceeds to be reinvested into the two hospitals.
The first task for Prasad, if he’s approved the new owner, is to fill the worker gaps at Weiss Memorial and West Suburban to get the facilities running at their full capacity. More than 75% of West Suburban’s patients are Black, with about 80% living in the Austin neighborhood. Meanwhile, Weiss, on the North Side, predominantly services Medicaid patients.
Prasad says he intends to own the hospitals over the long term. When asked if he had any plans to close West Suburban or Weiss Memorial, Prasad said “absolutely not.”
“And the beauty is that I’ll be living in the community so people can knock on my door and hold me to my promise,” Prasad said.
This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain's Chicago Business.