Protesters Decry Hospital’s Commitment to Streeterville Patients

The group gathered to denounce what it percieved as a pro-wealthy bias in its coverage

By Asher Klein

About 30 protesters gathered outside the University of Chicago Medical Center’s Streeterville clinic yesterday, according to an article in the Chi-Town Daily News. The group gathered to denounce what it percieved as a pro-wealthy bias in its coverage, given the commitment to the distant Streeterville clinic while it has shut down an East 47th street women’s clinic and shifted responsibility for the upkeep of others onto partners.

One of the protesters claimed in the article that the downtown clinic offers better and more timely care than do many Hyde Park clinics.

The demonstration was organized by Southside Together Organizing for Power, an award-winning group that organizes in order to support the poor and minority residents of the South Side it percieves as being treated unfairly. It has taken opposition to many of the Medical Center’s recent policies.

In an article for the June edition of Grey City, Lonnie Richardson, head of STOP, reacted to the closing of the East 47th street clinic. “We are being pushed out of the neighborhood but people should still be able to use the emergency room,” he said.

In yesterday’s coverage of the demonstration, John Easton, spokesman for the Medical Center, said treatment offered at the downtown clinic is the same as is offered at all of the clinics affiliated with the University, and that the Streeterville location “is an example of positive trends in medical care more generally. The combination of different specialties at one office means that patients can get a complete, personalized assessment in a timely way, bringing the high quality of our Hype Park hospital to a smaller downtown setting.”

However, former University professor Mel Rothenberg is quoted in the article as saying that the Streeterville clinic provides faster and more personalized consultation than he had experience when attending Hyde Park clinics.

“The doctor spent about 40 minutes talking with me about my condition,” he said. I’ve never gotten that type of treatment here at Hyde Park.”

Rothenberg saw this as a sign the University is abandoning Hyde Parkers. “They’re more interested about reaching out to wealthier (communities) on the North Side,” he said.

In 2000, the Near North Side, which Streeterville (a neighborhood with a fascinating history) is a part of, was inhabited by many more high income residents than was Hyde Park, 59% to 39%, according to statistics provided by the Metro Chicago Information Center. Kenwood was made up of 30% high income residents. High income is defined here as an annual income of greater than $78, 825.