UCMC to bring adult trauma center to Hyde Park campus

The new plan replaces the proposal between the UCMC and Sinai Health System to bring a Level 1 adult trauma center to Holy Cross Hospital.

By Marta Bakula

The University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) announced on December 17 that it will bring a Level I adult trauma center to its Hyde Park campus. The new plan replaces the joint proposal between the UCMC and Sinai Health System to bring Level I adult trauma care to Holy Cross Hospital, announced in September.

University officials concluded that they would like to integrate the new Level I adult trauma center with the existing Level I pediatric trauma program and burn and complex wound center in order to “[provide] an integrated approach to serving the acute care needs of patients and the community at one site,” according to a press release from UChicago Medicine.

“At the end of the day, we realized that integrating all of these services on one site, on our campus, made the most sense for South Side patients,” Sharon O’Keefe, president of the UCMC, said in a statement.

In September, UChicago Medicine and Sinai Health System announced plans to add a trauma center to the South Side at Holy Cross Hospital, located on West 68th Street and South California Avenue in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood. While these plans have now been abandoned, Sinai Health Systems expressed their continued support of a South Side trauma center.

“From the very beginning, what has mattered most is making sure that patients have access to the highest level of trauma care where the needs are great,” Karen Teitelbaum, president and CEO of Sinai Health System, said in a statement. “Ultimately, we are gratified that trauma care will be restored in an area of Chicago that is in urgent need of these services.”

As part of the new proposal, UChicago Medicine will add a new and expanded emergency room closer to the Center for Care and Discovery and increase the number of inpatient beds. The additional beds will be used for specialty care, including cancer, trauma, and emergency services.

UChicago Medicine will file a Certificate of Need application with the Illinois Health and Services Review Board in order to expand its emergency department. It must receive approval from the Illinois Department of Public Health and Chicago Trauma Network in order to build the trauma center.

Activists from the Trauma Center Coalition (TCC) have urged the University to bring a Level I trauma center to the South Side since 2010, following the death of Damian Turner, an 18-year-old community activist and founder of Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY). Turner was shot three blocks away from the UCMC and died en route to the closest trauma center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Streeterville.

Several members of the TCC said the initial proposal would leave many South Side residents underserved. The coalition claimed that the trauma center at Holy Cross Hospital would be over five miles away from some areas of the South Side with higher rates of gun violence, including South Shore, Kenwood, and East Woodlawn.

The TCC expressed satisfaction at the announcement because the UCMC campus is significantly closer to these neighborhoods.

“We applaud the University of Chicago for taking responsibility as a member of the broader South Side community. A Level 1 Adult Trauma Center at the University of Chicago will provide the best possible outcome for addressing the current lack of South Side trauma care. It also signals a significant shift in the University’s approach to responding to the needs of its predominantly Black South Side neighbors,” the TCC said in a statement released December 17.

The TCC statement added that it will not stop advocating throughout the process of adding the trauma center. “We will continue to call on President Robert Zimmer and Dean Kenneth Polonsky to implement and operate this proposed trauma center with transparency and accountability to the surrounding community. We plan to stay resolute in our demands until we can see that this proposed trauma center will operate in a long-term, sustainable capacity. “

UChicago Medicine said that it will release a detailed timeline for the project soon.