October 8, 2013

Jackson Sr., Rush express support for trauma center

Months after a heated campaign for an adult level-1 trauma center, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., joined community leaders and activists in calling on the University to expand their trauma services in a town hall meeting at University Church this past Saturday. The event was hosted by Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY) and Students for Health Equity (SHE) and comes at a time when University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) administrators are considering building a new emergency room.

The town hall meeting was led by a brief presentation by FLY, after which audience members questioned the panel. The group included fourth-year SHE member Patrick Dexter, FLY representative Victoria Crider, Leif Elsmo, executive director of external and community affairs at the UCMC, and Dennis Higgins, representing Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL). Rush earlier this year proposed a bill that would bring in $100 million from the federal government to be used toward increasing access to trauma care in underserved areas.

During the question and answer session, Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-3rd) declared her unequivocal support for expanding access to trauma care in the South Side, saying it is now her “number one priority.” She promised FLY and SHE leaders that she would push for a hearing with a representative from the governor’s office, a State Department official in charge of implementing the Affordable Care Act, and other relevant political figures in the area to help push the movement forward.

Toward the end of the event the crowd became agitated at Elsmo’s responses. FLY organizer Alex Goldenberg (A.B. '06) asked Elsmo if the University would commit to meeting Chicago-area physicians to discuss the possibility of being part of the foundation of a level-2 trauma center at Advocate Trinity hospital on the South Side, an idea that Gary Merlotti, a Mt. Sinai trauma director and one of the doctors who helped set up Chicago’s trauma network in the 1980s, discussed with other emergency care physicians from around the city this summer. Elsmo responded that the University had not been officially approached with this plan, but that discussing “regional solutions” remain a part of the University’s efforts to work with the community on increasing access to health care, and that hospital administrators are open to discussing such solutions.