South Side trauma center crosses 'broadest geography' possible, doctor says

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Friday, September 11, 2015
Trauma center planned for South Side
A trauma center will be built on Chicago's South Side in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A trauma center will be built on Chicago's South Side in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood.

The University of Chicago Medicine and Sinai Health System are working together to transform Holy Cross Hospital's emergency room into a Level 1 adult trauma center.

Holy Cross, operated by Sinai Health System, is located at West 68th Street and South California Avenue. UChicago Medicine will be footing the $40 million project "near some of the highest incidence of trauma injury and gun violence in the city," according to its website. UChicago will also provide specialists in general trauma care, neurology, orthopedics, plastic surgery, urology and other areas.

Mount Sinai Hospital will provide the ER doctors, anesthesiologists and nurses.

"We believe so strongly that the city of Chicago and this area needs a trauma that if it means we're going be reallocating resources to be able to do this, that's what we plan on doing," Karen Tietelbaum, Sinai Health System, said.

"It really provides a comprehensive trauma and emergency medicine care solution that crosses the broadest geography the two of us together can do," Dr. Douglas Dirschl, University of Chicago Medicine, said.

Holy Cross already serves its surrounding neighborhoods, including Englewood, which is one of the city's most dangerous, but did not have a trauma center.

The collaboration comes after five years of protests to bring an adult trauma center to the University of Chicago Hospital.

"We have listened to the trauma protestors and we actually share in the belief that there is a need for trauma services," Sharon O'Keefe, University of Chicago Medicine, said.

While Holy Cross will improve access, some say it's not enough. A study in 2013 found that people who were shot more than five miles away from a Level 1 trauma center were 23-percent more likely to die.

"What about over here? There are still lives that need to be saved within this area, within this community of even Woodlawn," Corey Mason, Fearless Leading by the Youth, said.

"There are five trauma centers on the North Side.Now there'll be one on the South Side. This still doesn't look like a completely equitable distribution of care," Anna Nathanson, Students for Health Equity, said.

The Holy Cross trauma center is expected to take two years to build.

The four other trauma centers are located at Stroger and Mount Sinai hospitals on the West Side, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital on the Near North Side and at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center on the North Side.