The Level 1 adult trauma center planned for Chicago's South Side will be built at the University of Chicago Medicine's Hyde Park campus, rather than Holy Cross Hospital, officials said Thursday.
In September, U of C Medicine and Sinai Health System announced plans to bring a Level 1 adult trauma center to Holy Cross Hospital, at 68th Street and California Avenue.
"While both entities were enthused about creating a unique collaborative approach, UChicago has concluded that integrating an adult Level 1 trauma center with its Level 1 pediatric trauma program, and Burn and Complex Wound Center would be of great benefit to South Side patients," U of C Medicine said in a statement Thursday.
U of C Medicine also plans to expand emergency services and increase inpatient capacity at its medical center campus.
"We deeply value our relationship with Sinai Health System and its enormous contributions to the network of care in Chicago," said University of Chicago Medical Center President Sharon O'Keefe. "We recognize Sinai's experience and excellence in trauma care. At the end of the day, we realized that integrating all of these services on one site, on our campus, made the most sense for South Side patients."
The U of C Medical Center previously operated a Level 1 adult trauma center, but closed it back in 1988 for financial reasons.
Since 2010, activists with the Trauma Care Coalition have urged U of C to re-open a Level 1 adult trauma center on the city's South Side, which is hard-hit by gun violence and currently lacks such a facility. Because the South Side is a "trauma desert," seriously injured adults have to travel miles away to other parts of the city for medical care.
The campaign for a South Side Level 1 adult trauma center launched after 18-year-old student and youth activist Damian Turner was shot near the corner of 51st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, just a few blocks away from the U of C hospital. Turner was transported to Northwestern Memorial Hospital near the Loop due to the absence of a nearby Level 1 trauma center, but he died an hour-and-a-half later. Trauma Care Coalition members believe Turner would have lived had there been an adult trauma ward nearby.
The Trauma Care Coalition welcomed U of C Medicine's decision to build an adult trauma center at its Hyde Park campus. Here is the group's full statement:
In this moment, the whole world is watching Chicago and its history and practice of institutional racism. The decision by President Robert Zimmer and Dean Kenneth Polonksy of the University of Chicago to listen to the community and concede to the demand to open a Level I Adult Trauma Center and save black lives shows that young black people can absolutely impact policy and influence political change for the betterment of the black community. To see the way that young black people have been able to move things from the fight for police torture reparations, to the Dyett hunger strike, to the fight against CPD police brutality, to be a part of this has been an amazing thing. This is something you don't expect to see in a lifetime.
We applaud the University of Chicago for taking responsibility as a member of the broader south side community. A Level I Adult Trauma Center at the University of Chicago will provide the best possible outcome for addressing the current lack of south side trauma care. It also signals a significant shift in the University's approach to responding to the needs of its predominantly Black South Side neighbors.
We will continue to call on President Robert Zimmer and Dean Kenneth Polonsky to implement and operate this proposed trauma center with transparency and accountability to the surrounding community. We are encouraged that the University of Chicago has stated an intention to release a detailed timeline and an intention to engage the community on these issues going forward. We will hold the University accountable to all of their commitments until they are secured. In 1988, the University of Chicago closed a Level I trauma center after two years of operation. We plan to stay resolute in our demands until we can see that this proposed trauma center will operate in a long-term, sustainable capacity.
This is a movement moment. We are winning and need to dream bigger and demand more to create a society where healthcare is a human right and all human rights are respected. We are calling on everyone who has struggled with us and all oppressed people to dream bigger. Let's do more, it's working, we can get the things that we want. The 'I believe that we will win,' chant is not just a chant, it is real.