South Side 'trauma center desert' subject of state hearing

November 21, 2013 (CHICAGO)

"It feels like were not providing something for the community that I know we can provide," Dr. Philip Verhoef said.

The Trauma Center Coalition held a press conference before a state committee hearing about access to emergency care.

"How can we best address this issue? It's long overdue. It's totally unacceptable. Too many people are dying," Illinois Sen. Mattie Hunter said.

Chicago has six Level 1 trauma centers for adults - but none are located on the city's South Side. On Wednesday people testified that the lack of access is particularly stark because the South Side has a higher number of trauma cases.

"For the past 21 years of my life I've lived on the South Side of Chicago and I have never seen as much violence as I'm seeing today," Veronica Morris-Moore, Fearless Leading by Youth, said.

"We found that if you were shot more than five miles away from one of trauma centers in Chicago that your transport times were higher and that your likelihood of dying increased 21 percent," Dr. Marie Crandall, Northwestern University, said.

The University of Chicago has a trauma center for pediatric patients, but adults are taken elsewhere. The has previously said it is not pursuing adult trauma care.

No one officially testified on behalf University of Chicago at the hearing, but the Illinois Hospital Association did address some of the challenges are hospitals are facing.

"The viability of trauma services in Illinois is threatened by insufficient funding to providers, on call physician resources, and the cost of medical liability," Dr. Derek Robinson, IL Hospital Association, said.

The issue of trauma center deserts is not just an urban discussion. Another senate public health hearing on this topic is planned downstate in the spring.

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