By Patrick Forrest, Chicago Crusader
The University of Chicago Medicine recently celebrated the completion of what will be the city’s newest and most advanced adult Emergency Department when the $39 million facility opens to patients in late December on Chicago’s South Side.
More than 125 elected officials, community representatives and faith leaders joined the UChicago Medicine in marking the occasion with a ribbon-cutting ceremoney and tours of the new state of the art Emergency Department (ED). The celebration continued over several days with tours for the local community.
The bigger facility not only increases access to urgent treatment for acute illnesses and injuries for the community, but it also brings the academic health system one essential step closer toward offering Level 1 Adult Trauma Care on the southside of Chicago, pending state regulatory approval.
“The new ED is essential to offering adult trauma care, since it is the primary entry point for trauma patients, who must be stabilized before being moved to other areas of the Medical Center for additional medical care,” said Kenneth Polonsky, MD, dean and executive vice president of medical affairs at the University of Chicago. “This facility is central to UChicago Medicine’s bold plan, which we announced in February 2016, to ensure the community has access to high quality health care, including adult trauma services.”
That bold plan Polonsky referred to is a $269 million plan, with the adult Emergency Department being one of three elements that were unanimously approved by the state regulatory board in May 2016. The other two elements are a Level 1 adult trauma center and a dedicated cancer care facility.
The new Level 1 adult trauma center for the South Side will be equipped with resuscitation bays to treat victims of trauma. Adult trauma care is scheduled to begin in May 2018, pending approval by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Redevelopment of Mitchell Hospital as a dedicated cancer-care facility is the third element. This part of the project also allows UChicago Medicine to add 188 inpatient hospital beds, which are critically needed. In recent years, the medical center has been operating near or at its capacity limits. These beds will help UChicago Medicine to accommodate the high demand for its services and to continue to accept transfers from other hospitals when more specialized or advanced care is needed. Completion is expected by early 2022.
“Our commitment to patient care and the community is embodied in this new Emergency Department. To this point, our frontline staff spent about 300 hours on a design that not only improves medical care but also the patient experience,” said Sharon O’Keefe, president of the University of Chicago Medical Center, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Now that the ED project is complete, we wanted to celebrate with our friends, colleagues, public officials, and the community and give thanks to those who’ve helped or supported us on this journey.”
In September, new surgeons joined UChicago Medicine to staff the Emergency Deparment. These five acclaimed trauma, acute care and critical care surgeons joined Selwyn Rogers, MD, MPH, founding director of the Trauma Center, and Gary An, MD, a current trauma faculty member, in serving the community and providing care for patients.
Hospital leaders also noted the economic impact of construction of the new facility. Based on contracts awarded and paid, certified minority-owned firms received nearly $5.8 million in economic benefit from this project. Minority and women trade workers earned $1.9 million in wages.
“We hope to receive Level 1 adult trauma center certification within the next few months so that we can begin treating trauma patients on May 1, 2018,” Polonsky said. “Our faculty and staff have been laser-focused on that timeframe, and you will hear more about our progress in the coming months.”
The new facility will include special rooms for sexual assault victims and those needing mental health help. The aim is to provide services and support that could prevent violence.
“Gunshot wounds and stab wounds, we will take care of it all,” said Dr. Selwyn Rogers, chief of the trauma center. “We want to touch lives beyond the context of sewing people up and sending them back into the communities where they live.”