University of Chicago to build trauma center in Hyde Park

CHICAGO (WLS) -- After many protests, Chicago's South Side will finally get a Level 1 adult trauma center.

The University of Chicago Medicine announced Thursday it will build the center on its Hyde Park campus. The Level 1 trauma center will be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by experts who treat the most critically wounded.

For five years, these South Side activists have been pushing for a Level 1 trauma center at University of Chicago. Operating out of a small store front just a few blocks from the U of C campus, members of the Trauma Center Coalition say their years of hard work have finally paid off.

"We didn't know this would happen two years later, four years later, whether it would happen 20 years later, we would have not given up," said Jasamine "Tweak" Harris, Trauma Center Coalition.

"We fought for five years and never once wavered and have always pushed that the University of Chicago be the ones to champion the solution to this problem," said Veronica Morris Moore, Trauma Center Coalition.

The problem is the South Side has been without a trauma center since the early 90s. Activists began their campaign after Damian Turner was shot and killed just a couple blocks from U of C hospital. But with no trauma center, Turner was taken to Northwestern. He died on the way there.

"It just didn't make sense that he had to go so far," Morris Moore said.

"This has been a thorny problem and one that we've been trying to find a good solution to and so we're glad that we can all be on sync on this," said Dr. Jeffrey Matthews, University of Chicago Medical Center.

Dr. Matthews says capacity constraints have prevented U of C from building a trauma center. Partnering with Mt. Sinai Hospitals to build a trauma center at Holy Cross Hospital was the original solution announced in September, but that all changed Thursday. U of C says it makes more sense to build a Level 1 adult trauma center on its medical center campus.

"Ultimately as we try to work through all the details the efficiencies of doing Level 1 adult trauma at the same site with Level 1 pediatric trauma became increasingly clear," Dr. Matthews said.=

"I applaud the University of Chicago's plan to increase access to critical care for the community," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. "Having access to a Level 1 adult trauma center, alongside increased access to emergency and specialty care, will strengthen health care on the South Side and put essential medical services closer within the reach of more residents."

It's unclear if U of C will renovate its existing emergency room or build something new. It's also not yet known when the project is expected to be completed.

This will be the fourth adult trauma center in the city of Chicago.
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