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University of Chicago to Raise Age of Pediatric Trauma Unit

Posted by Admin On December - 9 - 2014

A Press conference will be held today, Dec. 9th, to announce increased Trauma Care for South Side at 12 p.m. (noon) at 58th & Maryland, in Chicago.

Trauma center activists announce decision as ‘first step to South Side adult trauma care.’

CHICAGO, IL — Trauma center activists from across the South Side and the University of Chicago will announce a recent concession from the University of Chicago Medical Center to provide coverage for trauma patients up to 18 years of age. Activists, including UCMC doctors and medical students along with community organizers, mothers, clergy and student activists, will hold a press conference on Tuesday, December 9th at noon outside the main UCMC hospital at 58th and S. Maryland to announce the decision and explain how it affects the ongoing campaign to bring a trauma center to the South Side.

The University of Chicago currently treats pediatric trauma patients up to 15 years of age, and activists have long asked for a raise in age limit as an interim measure to providing full trauma care for adults on the South Side. “The trauma center desert on Chicago’s southside is both unjust and a significant public health problem,” explained UofC ICU physician Dr. Philip Verhoef,  “Such an expansion is an exciting opportunity for the U of C to further its mission of improving health and access to quality care on the South Side of Chicago.”

In the past, UofC officials, including hospital Dean Kenneth Polonsky, have claimed that they would not raise the age of their pediatric trauma unit above 15 years because they are bound by Illinois Department of Public Health regulations which define “pediatric patient” as 15 years and under. However, in a public letter to the Trauma Care Coalition, IDPH Director LaMar Hasbrouck wrote that, “if an Illinois Designated Pediatric Trauma Center sought to voluntarily increase the age of Trauma Patients for whom it would provide trauma care, the EMS administrative code would not restrict the upper age limit of a pediatric trauma center at 15 years.”

Woodlawn youth organizer and trauma center campaign leader Veronica Morris-Moore called the announcement a “huge victory. It’s a clear sign we are moving forward.” But, she explained, the fight for adequate trauma care on the South Side is far from over: “We will continue with our efforts to get the University of Chicago to assist in providing an adult level 1 trauma center on the South Side.”

The announcement comes three weeks after over 150 students and community members disrupted the gala launch of the UofC’s $4.5-billion capital campaign in Hyde Park and just one week before the University will submit its proposal to host Barack Obama’s presidential library in Hyde Park. Trauma center activists and supporters have been consistently demanding that the UofC not be selected to host the library until they commit to opening a trauma center.

The community’s demand for trauma care was sparked by the death of Woodlawn youth leader Damian Turner, and is led by the Woodlawn-based Fearless Leading by the Youth, along with the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, Students for Health Equity at the UofC, National Nurses United and many faith groups including the United Church of Christ. The call for trauma care is also supported by new research by Dr. Marie Crandall of Northwestern Hospital on “Trauma Deserts” which shows that longer travel times to a trauma center increase the likelihood of dying.

Recent stories on the trauma center campaign:

“Trauma center protesters target U. of C. capital campaign,” The Chicago Tribune

“Chicago Faith Leaders Sing, Pray For A South Side Trauma Center ,” Progress Illinois

“Religious leaders march for South Side trauma center,” Hyde Park Herald

“South Side Hospital Patients Caught in Trauma Deserts,” (Feature Story), Chicago Tribune

“University of Chicago Alumni: No Donations Until Trauma Center Opened,” Progress Illinois

“Chicago needs help, not Obama Library,” LZ Granderson, CNN.com

“Activists protest university’s bid for Obama Library,” USA Today

“Why This Hospital Turned a 18-Year Old Away After He Was Shot,” The Huffington Post

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