The Crusader Newspaper Group

First Trauma Center on South Side in 27 years ready to open

University of Chicago Medicine passes final hurdle for facility at Hyde Park campus

Crusader Staff Report

After years of protests, the South Side will finally get a 24-hour trauma center on May 1. The University of Chicago Medicine recently gained approval from the Illinois Department of Public Health to open a much-needed $35 million Level 1 trauma center at its Hyde Park medical campus, becoming the first hospital on the South Side in 27 years to open a facility that treats patients with life threatening injuries.

It was the final regulatory hurdle for a facility that took years to obtain, after an activist near the University of Chicago campus died in 2010 following arrival at a trauma center miles away.

The defunct  Michael Reese Hospital in Bronzeville closed its adult trauma center in 1991. Following the closure South Side residents have had to travel by ambulance as far as 10 miles for trauma treatment.

Since then activists have held numerous demonstrations bemoaning the absence of a trauma center on the South Side, as patients fighting for their lives were forced to travel long distances to hospitals located in other parts of the city. Community leaders and even doctors of the renowned hospital joined the fight to get a trauma center at the University of Chicago Medicine, a private, world-renowned institution that has an affluent patient clientele. The long campaign for a trauma center was well documented in the Chicago Crusader.

Other Chicago area adult Level I trauma centers include Stroger Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital on the West Side, Northwestern Memorial Hospital on the Near North Side and Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center on the North Side. Comer Children’s Hospital, part of University of Chicago Medicine, is a Level I pediatric trauma center.

The new adult trauma center scheduled to open May 1 will treat patients with wounds from gunshots, vehicle crashes, fires and falls. Construction on the trauma center began in 2016. It was built using a converted parking garage and has four trauma bays for treating patients.

“This is a true victory for the community,” said Candance Henley, a local health activist who is the co-chair of University of Chicago Medicine’s Community Advisory Council. “Community voices played a vital role shaping the hospital’s plan to increase access to critical services and meet the growing needs of its neighbors and patients.”


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