February 16, 2016

UCMC Announces Plans to Build New Emergency Room

The University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) is planning to submit a Certificate of Need (CON) within the next few days to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to increase the number of licensed beds and expand the emergency department in its facility according to a recent press release. These developments are crucial steps toward the UCMC’s goal of opening a Level I adult trauma center.

“In an effort to expand access, UChicago Medicine is now proposing a bold plan to invest in facilities and programs that will deepen and broaden their commitment to the community and expand their ability to provide the highest quality health care to the South Side of Chicago,” according to a UCMC press release. 

Currently, the UCMC is a certified Level I trauma center for pediatric emergencies, but is not equipped to deal with adult trauma. To be classified as a Level I adult trauma center, the UCMC must have general surgeons on duty at all times and specialists on call, as well as programs to help rehabilitate and educate patients and community members about health. 

If the CON is approved, the UCMC will be able to expand its emergency room facilities and add more patient beds to the hospital. It will then have to get plans approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Chicago Trauma Network to begin work on a full adult trauma center. ERs can deal with medical problems like heart attacks or strokes, but trauma centers are needed to deal with serious injuries caused by blunt or puncture forces, such as injuries from automobile accidents or gunshot wound.

According to a February 8 press release from the UCMC, the number of beds available to patients in the South Side of Chicago has decreased by 54 percent in the last 40 years. The UCMC currently has a 90 percent occupancy rate, and it is often required to turn away patients due to high demand. Each year, the UCMC admits over 25,000 patients and provides emergency services to another 78,000. In 2014, after two proposals to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, the UCMC relocated 154 others from an older facility to the Center for Care and Discovery, and added an additional 43 beds to the facility.

The UCMC began work on its plan to expand the ER and become a certified trauma center in December of 2014, when it submitted a CON application to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, but decided to withdraw it until it gathered more precise information by conducting “a thorough study of services, capacity, and community need related to present and future clinical capacity,” according to a UCMC press release from last January.

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