Protestors accuse UCMC of reneging promise to raise age limit of pediatric trauma care

“The Illinois Department of Public Health has not yet been notified that the University of Chicago Medical Center is full prepared to implement its proposal.”

By Adam Thorp and Editor-in-Chief ('18–'19)

Members of the Trauma Center Coalition (TCC) led a protest against perceived inaction by the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) on a commitment to raise the age limit at its pediatric trauma center Wednesday.

About 20 people attended the event, which was held in front of the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine on East 58th Street and South Maryland Avenue.

A year ago on Wednesday, the UCMC announced it would raise the age limit of its pediatric trauma care program to serve 16- and 17-year-olds, saying the process would take about a year. This September the UCMC announced a partnership with Sinai Health Systems to build a Level I adult trauma center at Sinai’s Holy Cross campus on West 68th Street and South California Avenue. Since then there has been no apparent move towards increasing the age limit, members of the Trauma Center Coalition said.

UCMC had to apply to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to change the age limit.

According to a statement by UCMC, they filed an application to expand the age limit last December, and continue “to work with the regional trauma network on how this can best benefit the community through the overall Chicago trauma care system.” A UCMC spokesperson declined additional comment.

Melaney Arnold, a spokesperson for the IDHP, told DNAinfo that the University currently lacks the personnel necessary to make such a change. “The Illinois Department of Public Health has not yet been notified that the University of Chicago Medical Center is full prepared to implement its proposal,” she said.

Arnold added that the UCMC would also need to work with other hospitals in the area to coordinate ambulance routes between trauma centers in order for the state to approve raising the age limit.

Protesters at the event, one of whom held a placard of a blown-up Chicago Tribune article announcing the decision to raise the age limit, rejected the idea that the Holy Cross trauma center justifies the UCMC’s inaction.

“They feel like, because they gave that 40 million [to build the trauma center at the Holy Cross site] they can renege on the promise they made to the community a year ago,” said Jasamine Harris, a coordinator with Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY), an organization that has campaigned for a trauma center. Harris also noted that until the trauma center at Holy Cross is completed, there will be no trauma center on the South Side for people under the age limit.

Speakers at the event also reiterated their belief that the age limit for UCMC’s pediatric trauma center should be raised to 21. Representatives of the Jewish Council for Urban Affairs and the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization spoke.

The protest the ended with a familiar chant from past trauma center protests: “What do we want? A trauma center. When do we want it? Now.”