Demonstrators in Chicago Protest the Building of the Obama Presidential Library before a Trauma Center

Organizers say a Trauma Center Should take Precedence over Potential plans for an Obama Presidential Library
Organizers say a Trauma Center Should take Precedence over Potential plans for an Obama Presidential Library

Upset that there is no trauma center that serves adults on the South Side, demonstrators are pressing again this week for the University of Chicago to reopen the unit it closed in 1988. The protesters, some of them clergy members, say it’s incongruous for the university to seek President Barack Obama’s library without offering trauma care to those living near its Hyde Park campus.

“We’re suggesting that if they want to have the first black president’s national library and museum, they need to do a little more for the black people who are right next door to them,” said Veronica Morris-Moore, 21, a South Shore resident who has been active in the campaign for a trauma center. “Our suggestion is that Barack Obama places his library with someone who cares about the black community.”

Most nights on the South Side, someone is shot. The bullets pierce men and women, girls and boys, innocent bystanders and hardened gangsters. For adults, the ambulance ride to a trauma center can cross the city and cost precious time.

Chicago has four Level I trauma centers for adults, according to the Illinois Hospital Association, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital on the Near North Side, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center on the North Side, Mount Sinai Hospital on the West Side and John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County on the Near West Side.

Suburban Level I trauma centers at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and Presence St. Francis Hospital and NorthShore University Evanston Hospital in Evanston are also in Cook County.

But some South Side residents would have to travel more than 10 miles by ambulance to reach a trauma center.

A 2013 Northwestern University study used data from Chicago shootings to show that gunshot patients more than five miles from a trauma center have a lower chance of survival.

Level I trauma centers are designed to treat severely injured patients and have resources beyond those of a standard emergency room. The facilities have general surgeons available at all times and provide prompt access to specialized care.

University of Chicago officials say they’re committed to engaging with the South Side and providing medical care to its residents, but they believe it’s unfair to expect the university alone to shoulder the costly burden of a trauma center. They’ve indicated a willingness to be part of a “regional effort” for offering trauma care, but no such solution has materialized.

U. of C. officials note that their hospitals continue to offer a trauma center for children up to age 16, as well as a neonatal intensive care and the only burn unit on the South Side. Opening a trauma center for adults, they said in a statement Monday, “would compromise the medical center’s ability to support these critical services.” The university declined to make hospital executives available for interviews.

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Source: Chicago Sun Times | Mitch Smith

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