September 11, 2015

Trauma center coming to South Side

The University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) and Sinai Health System announced a joint partnership to establish a level 1 adult trauma center on the South Side Thursday night. The project comes after years of increasing activism by community members and students.

The multi-million-dollar project will renovate and expand the emergency center at Holy Cross Hospital, located at West 68th Street and South California Avenue, into a Level I adult trauma center, according to an e-mail sent to faculty, staff, and students in the Biological Sciences Division and University of Chicago Medicine. UCMC will help pay for the the facility improvements, expected to cost $40 million, and provide specialists in general trauma; urologists; and neurological, orthopaedic, and plastic surgeons, among other subspecialties. Holy Cross will also provide trauma care specialists, including emergency department physicians, anesthesiologists, and nursing staff, as well as trauma care support specialists.

Both organizations have significant experience in trauma care, as the UCMC operates the Comer children’s trauma center in Hyde Park and Sinai Health Systems operates the trauma center at Mount Sinai Hospital on the West Side.

UCMC also announced it will build a new adult emergency department on South Cottage Grove Avenue, connected to the Center for Care and Discovery, a new UCMC hospital that was opened in 2013, via underground tunnel. This emergency department will cost approximately $35 million to build.

“We believe that the successful implementation of this plan will extend the ability of UChicago Medicine to serve the South Side communities while at the same time improving access to patients seeking care for complex medical conditions on our Hyde Park campus,” the e-mail read.

The Trauma Center Coalition, an organization of seven community and national groups that has advocated for a South Side trauma center since 2010, expressed both pride and disappointment with the announcement in a statement posted online.

“The Trauma Center at Holy Cross is a victory for the South Side and it’s happening because of young black people and allies.” The statement continues, “The decision to not place the trauma center on campus says to the immediate surrounding neighborhoods that we are not welcomed.”

The TCC also stated its disappointment that UCMC will likely withdraw its proposal to raise the age limit of treatment at Comer Children’s Hospital from 15 to 17, as the Chicago Tribune reported. The TCC will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. Friday at East 58th Street and South Maryland Avenue.

UCMC plans to file a Certificate of Need (CON) application with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board by the end of 2015 and anticipates that the approval process and construction of the trauma center will take at least two years.

The South Side has not had an adult trauma care center since the Michael Reese Hospital closed in 1991. Holy Cross will become the fifth adult trauma center in the city, along with Northwestern Memorial Hospital on the Near North Side, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center on the North Side, Stroger Hospital on the West Side and Mount Sinai on the West Side.