A top surgeon and public health expert with more than 16 years of trauma care experience, Dr. Selwyn O. Rogers Jr., will lead the University of Chicago Medicine’s development of the South Side’s only Level 1 adult trauma center, scheduled to open in 2018. He joined the organization on Jan. 5, 2017.
As chief of the Section for Trauma & Acute Care Surgery and founding director of the University of Chicago Medicine Trauma Center, Rogers will build an interdisciplinary team of specialists to treat patients who suffer injury from life-threatening events such as car crashes, serious falls and gun violence. He and his team will work with leaders in the city’s trauma network and at other hospitals to expand trauma care on the South Side.
“Dr. Rogers is highly qualified for this role,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago. “He will provide leadership that will ensure clinical excellence and growth for the medical center, as well as operational leadership for trauma services.”
Rogers comes to Chicago from the University of Texas Medical Branch, where he had been vice president and chief medical officer since 2014. Prior to that, he served as chair for the Department of Surgery and surgeon-in-chief at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia from 2012 to 2014 and as division chief of Trauma, Burn, and Surgical Critical Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston from 2005 to 2012. He also served as associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School from 2008 to 2012.
His clinical and research interests have focused on the health care needs of underserved populations. While at Harvard, Rogers helped to launch the Center for Surgery and Public Health, whose mission is to understand the nature, quality and utilization of surgical care nationally and internationally. He has published numerous articles relating to health disparities and the impact of race and ethnicity on surgical outcomes.
To allow him to continue in this area, Rogers also has been appointed executive vice president for community health engagement. In this capacity he will collaborate with the Urban Health Initiative, which is the primary civic and community engagement arm of UChicago Medicine. Rogers and his team will help to foster programs for and leverage resources of the medical center and university to improve the health and well-being of neighboring communities.
Rogers’ appointment underscores the university’s work in addressing the public health challenges of the South Side. His role will complement efforts in UChicago Urban, the university’s commitment to understand urban issues and create a positive impact for Chicago and other cities worldwide.
“In this position, Dr. Rogers will collaborate with faculty across the university and members of the community to help develop a multidisciplinary approach to trauma care and health disparities that will help us better understand and address the social factors that affect victims of violence and underserved populations,” said Derek Douglas, vice president for civic engagement. “This will bring together resources of the medical center, university and community to develop novel approaches to achieving better outcomes for victims of trauma.”
UChicago Medicine launched a national search for a trauma director after its expansion plans were unanimously approved by state regulators in May 2016. The proposal — dubbed Get CARE by the medical center for the regulatory approvals process — sought to increase community access to emergency, trauma and specialty care. The state’s approval allowed UChicago Medicine to move forward with plans to relocate and expand its adult emergency department, provide adult trauma care, and build a facility dedicated to cancer care and treatment. Under the plan, 188 inpatient beds also will be restored to support this growth.
The University of Chicago Medicine Trauma Center will be part of the current emergency department system and supplements its existing Level 1 pediatric trauma program and the Burn and Complex Wound Center. These programs will come together under the newly established Section of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.
“Dr. Rogers will lead the clinical direction of this new section within our department,” said Dr. Jeffrey Matthews, chairman of the Department of Surgery, who led the national search. “His most important priority in the coming months is the preparation and successful launch of the adult trauma program.”
The new emergency department is projected to treat an additional 25,000 patient visits a year by 2021. (The medical center handled about 59,300 adult ER visits in fiscal 2016.) About 2,000 adult trauma patients are expected in the first 12 months of trauma center designation. The number of physicians and staff needed to provide Level 1 trauma care will be determined in the weeks ahead. UChicago Medicine has begun taking steps to be designated a Level 1 adult trauma center in Illinois.
Rogers holds degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, as well as a master’s degree in public health from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
“Joining UChicago Medicine is truly an opportunity of a lifetime,” Rogers said. “I look forward to working in Chicago’s South Side to help meet the clinical needs of patients while working to understand and help address the broader challenges that go beyond our hospital walls.”