University of Chicago Medicine Previews New Emergency Department

A step toward the South Side’s only adult trauma center.

By Daksh Chauhan, Deputy News Editor

University of Chicago Medicine (UCM) marked the completion of its new $39 million dollar adult emergency department with a ceremony Tuesday. It is a step towards completing the hospital's adult trauma center, which is expected to begin delivering care by May next year. UCM’s new emergency department will start treating patients on December 29. 

During the tour of the emergency department by Thomas Spiegel, emergency room physician at UCM, said that the emergency department will be Chicago’s most advanced. It will have a rapid assessment unit active 24/7 for patients in need of many different types of care. The unit’s responsibility will be to identify the seriousness of patient’s conditions and recommend what steps to take to deal with the patient’s condition.  

“We expect patients in the low 200s a day, so the rapid assessment unit will be key to managing time well,” Spiegel told The Maroon during the tour.  

The emergency department also has facilities to deal with specialized problems as they come in. Speigel mentioned that they will have a wide range of facilities to deal with problems from  bariatric care, the medical care of extremely obese people, to disease containment. There will also be a resuscitation bay for trauma patients. “It is where we’ll deal with heart attack patients and patients experiencing trauma like gunshot wounds and car accidents,” Spiegel said. 

Officers of the university, including Vice President of Civic Engagement and External Affairs Derek R.B. Douglass, and other community leaders, were present at the opening ceremony. President of University of Chicago Health System Kenneth S. Polonsky, called the completion of the education department a milestone in providing proper care to all people on the South Side. “It was a central element of our plan to expand care,” Polonsky said during the community ceremony. 

“This milestone event doesn’t just represent an advancement of the university but an improvement for the entire community,” Douglass added during the event. 

An adult trauma center at UCM, which will be the only such facility on the South Side, was the aim of years of community activism. UCM announced its decision to build the facility in June of 2016.