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FLY, SHE continue calls for trauma center with flower vigil

Participants marched to the Administration building and dropped their flowers in front of President Zimmer's office.

Photo: Jamie Manley
Students and members of SHE (Student for Health Equity) and FLY (Fearless Leading by the Youth) march Friday afternoon during a vigil for victims of gun violence.

Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY) and Students for Health Equity (SHE) held a flower vigil in remembrance of South Side gun violence victims to reiterate their belief in the need for a trauma center at the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) on Friday. University members and South Side residents attended the demonstration, totaling nearly 200 participants.

Attendees of the vigil marched from the north entrance of Harper Memorial Library to the Administration building, where each person walked single file up the stairs to President Zimmer’s fifth-floor office at the instruction of Lynda Daher, Dean-on-Call during the protests. There, they lay their flowers by a poster created by FLY members featuring photos of gunshot victims and pictures of the January 27 protest. Belinda Vazquez, associate dean of students, was present to receive a faculty letter addressed to President Robert Zimmer and Provost Thomas Rosenbaum and a petition addressed to the general administration from the demonstrators.

Afterward, participants gathered on the east side of the Administration building to chant. The chanting lasted nearly 20 minutes, which, according to Darrius Lightfoot, co-founder of FLY, was longer than planned.

“We just planned to do a few chants and then leave but it turned to something more and I loved it. I loved it,” he said.

Four participants spoke to the group prior to the march.

“We go on because we believe we can and will live in a world where…hospitals will be equipped to serve the needy in their communities,” third-year SHE member Michael McCown said in a speech.

Daher said the role of the vigil was to “make sure this protest is successful.” She verbally offered her capacities as a Dean-on-Call, including answering questions about her role as Dean-on-Call.

Around the time the vigil began, Rosenbaum issued a second statement detailing the University’s plans to address the protest and accompanying arrests. According to the statement, UCMC leadership will host a discussion on “the role of University of Chicago Medicine in providing healthcare to the South Side of Chicago including inpatient, outpatient, emergency room, community programs and trauma care.”

Zimmer said in an interview with the Maroon that the “leaders who are most responsible for the work at hand” are delegated to handle certain issues. For instance, Rosenbaum, as the University’s chief academic officer, led the administration’s response because students and faculty were involved in the protests and subsequent events. Zimmer also said that the decision to have a Level-I adult trauma center is for the UCMC to make.

Last night, Marlon Lynch, chief of UCPD, and Eleanor Daugherty, assistant vice president of student life, were present at the Graduate Student Council meeting. According to SG minutes, Lynch and Daugherty discussed their roles in the coming weeks. Lynch will be active in most conversations hosted by SG and the administration.

SG will begin hosting small-group discussions today, which will include members from social justice and cultural RSOs, a member of the SG slate, Lynch, and Daugherty. The discussions will continue through the week, which SG hopes will lead to an open forum next week, according to Douglas Everson, SG vice president of administration.

Rosenbaum also said that the administration has planned three faculty-led dialogues to take place in the coming weeks, unrelated to SG’s efforts. The faculty participants are political science professor Michael Dawson, director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, associate professor of medicine Doriane Miller, director of the Center for Community Health and Vitality, and associate English professor Deborah Nelson, deputy provost for graduate education.

In the meantime, FLY and SHE members plan to press forward with their demands.

“There will be more actions; there will be more protests; there will be more direct actions. We’re not turned around by what happened Sunday,” said Veronica Moore, a member of FLY who was physically handled by UCPD during the protest. “We still plan on being here and we still plan on speaking out about what goes on here.”

“Can’t throw all of our cats out of the bag but yeah, we definitely have plans,” she said.

SHE and FLY are hosting an informational panel on trauma care in Chicagoland at 6 p.m. tonight, in Kent 107. According to Olivia Woollam, fourth-year member of SHE, alderman Anthony Beale and representatives for some of the candidates for Jesse Jackson’s vacant congressional seat will be in attendance.

Editor’s Note: Douglas Everson is a Maroon Senior Editor.

  • sam from kenwood

    I’m going to go out on the limb here and say something so unpolitically correct. We can’t have a trauma center on the the south side until the Near South and Mid South communities are fully gentrified. I’m guessing the protesters and people who advocate for such a thing don’t know or don’t care about the very high costs of care needed for people who can’t pay. The costs are so high that any institution could become bankrupt. Michael Rese Hospital comes to mind. The University has already made this calculation and decided they would like to stay afloat. The University going under would severly damage this part of the south side.

    Gentrification would lower the amount of gun violence and push them to another emergency service area. Thi means that they would use another emergency room instead of the new on at U of C trauma center.

  • sam from kenwood

    Ahhhhhh its so nice to see all the young wide eyed spoiled uofc students engaged in the protests. I guess you can have time for such a thing when you don’t have to work or you have such an easy major in the humanities of the liberal arts. Geee I wonder if their humanity professors who put them up to this understand that a high costs trauma center would mean their jobs would be cut or pay lowered as a result of it. I know the institution wouldn’t touch the medical,business, or hard science schools.

  • The Ghost of Milton Friedman

    I agree Sam! I will only be happy once the streets of Hyde Park run red with the blood of the poor.

  • John Doe

    Why does a private institution, which already does a lot for the local community, also need to host a trauma center? Why is the community not looking towards the city to provide this service instead?

  • Connie Potter

    I was asked by the activist community in south Chicago three years ago to review the data they had been given about their access to trauma care. Unfortunately for those commenting that the victims of crime, etc in south Chicago are getting adequate trauma care, their reliance on data for time from scene to destination provides only about 50% or less of the time cycle of prehospital care needed. Data required is 911 call to dispatch, arrival of ems providers (routinely delayed by police for gun related scenes to secure the site), time for treatment and preparation for transport, THEN AND ONLY THEN time from scene to destination. Sadly, the most time sensitive injuries are penetrating, ie knife and gunshot wounds, which are those at issue in south Chicago.

    Trauma centers in Illinois receive (at last count) $34m per year in taxpayers money. Therefore, it is inequitable for a community of this size to lack access to a tax supported service that is allocated instead to those persons living in areas with high percentages of blunt (car crash) trauma which is usually covered by insurance. The citizens of south Chicago are being taxed without reaping the benefits of early and timely access to trauma care.

    The data cited by various status quo supporters cannot be be relied upon because it does not differentiate between outcomes of penetrating versus blunt trauma and time to care. Rest assured, the commentator’s remarks from Portland OR should be dismissed as that city is no south Chicago! As former trauma system manager for Oregon, I was well aware that over 80% of Portland trauma was blunt in nature.

    South Chicago is a war zone and its citizens should have the same access to care as those in “blue cross positive” zip codes, especially when they are already paying for that access. Furthermore, data and opinions from those individuals associated with existing Illinois trauma centers are biased at best or simply flawed by lack of accurate and complete prehospital and outcome data.

    The city of Chicago needs and requires an objective trauma system assessment by such as the American College of Surgeons as well as a standardized preventable death study conducted by persons removed from conflicts of interest. Chicago is an excellent example of what is wrong with trauma care. Market driven despite being a public health and safety issue and profit motivated despite trauna being safety net health service. Connie J. Potter, RN, MBA:HCA. Co-founder and immediate past CEO of the Trauma Center Association of America, Las Cruces NM. I am a nationally known Trauma economist and consultant for trauma center and systems development.