Adult Trauma Center Approved and Scheduled to Open in 2018

“We applaud the University of Chicago for taking responsibility as a member of the broader South Side community.”

By Sonia Schlesinger

This year, a University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) Level I adult trauma center was announced, approved, and scheduled to open in 2018.

In September, the UCMC announced plans to establish a Level I adult trauma center through a joint partnership with Mount Sinai Hospital. The center was to be located at Holy Cross Hospital on West 68th Street and South California Avenue with the goal of serving surrounding neighborhoods.

Activists from the Trauma Center Coalition (TCC) have been pushing for a Level I trauma center since 2010, after Damian Turner, an 18-year-old community activist and founder of Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY), was shot three blocks away from the UCMC and died in the ambulance to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Streeterville. Several activists expressed dissatisfaction with the University’s decision to build the center so far away from the UCMC and Hyde Park.

In December, the University announced that it will bring the center to the Hyde Park campus instead. A press release from UChicago Medicine explained that University officials had 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.

“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.

“We applaud the University of Chicago for taking responsibility as a member of the broader South Side community. A Level I 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.

On April 21, the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board (IHFSRB) issued a report that criticized parts of the UCMC’s initial proposal for expansion. It said that the proposal was too extensive in that it requested too many additional beds and emergency room stations; the report argued that the medical center needed only five additional medical and surgical beds, rather than the 168 the center had proposed, and that it only needed 15 new intensive care units, not 20.

On May 10, IHFSRB voted unanimously to approve the UCMC’s $269 million expansion plan.

Activists involved in the campaign for a trauma center are now pushing for the creation of a community advisory board that would work with UCMC administrators throughout the construction of the center. The board would consist of patients, families, youth, people of color, and low-income members of the community. Additionally, TCC is pushing for the medical center to fund violence prevention programs and support victims of violence.