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Youth Activist Win! U of C to Build Adult Trauma Center

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Five years of protesting, arrests for civil disobedience, publicly shaming Black politicians, including President Obama and working together as a unit without a distinct leader has all paid off in bringing a Level I adult trauma center to the South Side. The news announced by the University of Chicago that it will build a trauma center at its South Side campus was met with rejoice from those who have been keeping the issue public over the last five years. On the frontline the entire time has been young, African Americans.

“This movement didn’t start with a mayor or an alderman,” said Veronica Morris-Moore, activist with Fearless Leading by the Youth. “The people who carried this message were young, black people — we were standing up for our lives. This was not just about protest, or about expressing anger. It was about forcing leaders to see the humanity in us. Health care is something we deserve.”

For years the U of C has held the position that a Level I trauma center would prove too costly and take valuable resources away from their medical research mission. Critics have said that is not true. As recently as earlier this year, the U of C continued to make those public statements until it was announced this spring they will partner with Mt. Sinai to build one in conjunction with Holy Cross hospital on the Southwest side of the city. It is not yet known why University officials changed their minds, but they did release the following statement.

“The University of Chicago Medicine has decided to build a Level 1 adult trauma center at its Medical Center campus in Hyde Park. And it’s proposing a bold plan to invest in facilities and programs that will deepen and broaden its commitment to the community and expand its ability to provide the highest quality health care to the South Side of Chicago.”

Dr. Jeffrey Matthews chief Surgeon said the hospital will also have more beds to treat patients, in addition to an increase in medical staff. He believes the move by the hospital will also help build a better relationship with the community.

The push for a South Side trauma center began with the murder of Damian Turner in 2010. After being shot on 61st and Cottage Grove, just blocks from the U of C Medical Center, Turner was transported downtown to Northwestern Memorial, some eight miles further. He died of his injuries. A co-founder of Fearless Leading by the Youth, his friends and family vowed to not let his death be in vain.

“He did not get the adequate care he needed,” said his mother Shelia Rush. “Damian was happy, energetic, loved life and loved people.”

Doctors and staff at the U of C Medical Center, who for years have also supported the idea of a Level I trauma center, rejoiced upon hearing the news. Many U of C students have joined the protestors throughout the years along with faculty members and others associated with the University.

“I’m happy we achieved this and that we will now be able to give the people of the South Side the urgent care they need,” said surgeon Dr. Douglas Dischi.

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