January 12, 2015

UCMC withdraws ER plan, anticipates more demand

The University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) withdrew its application to build a new $36 million adult emergency department last week, citing a greater demand for health services than their former application anticipated.

In a letter to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board on January 6, Director of Capital Budget and Control John R. Beberman wrote that the UCMC needs more time to discuss the project of inpatient help “[b]ecause of strong and growing demand for [their] emergency services that coincides with sustained, high levels of inpatient occupancy.” They plan on analyzing their plans to improve healthcare by conducting a comprehensive study.

Although unsure of the exact methodology of the study, UCMC spokesperson Lorna Wong said the study will enable UCMC leaders to look more closely at current services, capacity levels, communal needs, finances, and the UCMC’s ability to sustain future clinical treatments.

Wong cited the growing demand in health services since the project was announced late December as an indicator that the University Medical Center needs more time to revise its goals.

“The impact of this positive growth has led us to conduct a thorough study of services, capacity, and community need related to present and future clinical capacity. We already have many significant initiatives underway in response to our growing services, including the build-out of the Center for Care and Discovery third and fourth floors, move of labor and delivery unit, and the new Center for Advanced Care at Orland Park,” Wong wrote in an e-mail.

Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP), part of the Trauma Center Coalition lobbying for a Level I adult trauma center at the UCMC,  submitted a letter requesting a public hearing on the proposed new ER prior to the project’s halt.

Fourth-year Joe Kaplan said the organization hopes that plans for a Level I adult trauma center are a part of the UCMC’s intentions.

“Any proposal to expand the ER without [a Level I adult trauma center] is completely inadequate,” he said.  “It is our sincere hope that the UCMC is withdrawing its proposal in order to meet our demand to provide trauma care to South Siders.”

According to Wong, the UCMC plans on completing its study by the end of the summer.