ER may come to UCMC garage

Medical School Dean says emergency room at the parking structure is “certainly a strong consideration.”

By Jeevna Sheth

An emergency room for the new $700 million Center for Care and Discovery is one of the possibilities for the currently empty ground floor of the University of Chicago Medical Center’s (UCMC) new parking structure.

The preliminary idea for an emergency room will be integrated into plans of an 1,800-space parking garage that is currently under construction for the new center and would have to be approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the hospital’s Board of Trustees.

Medical School Dean Kenneth Polonsky told that building a new ER in the empty space on the ground floor is “certainly a strong consideration.”

Although there have been no formal discussions to open an ER in the parking garage, the UCMC has “built in additional space to be used at some point in the future,” UCMC spokesperson Lorna Wong wrote in an e-mail to the Maroon.

“That decision will be made after additional analysis of hospital resources and the needs of patients and their families,” Wong wrote.

Currently, the adult and child emergency rooms at UCMC serve about 75,000 patients from the South Side. However, Wong admitted that the UCMC experiences persistent congestion in its emergency rooms.

“University of Chicago Medicine, like so many other hospitals nationwide, experiences chronic overuse and overcrowding in the ER,” Wong said, a problem that is mainly driven by the volume of patients who come to the emergency room for non-life-threatening emergencies.

The Center for Care and Discovery added 38 new in-patient beds and, according to Wong, lack of available nearby parking is one of the top complaints of patients.