Trauma Center Activists to Protest UofC Gold Coast Fundraiser

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CHICAGO, IL — Trauma center protesters, including South Side youth, mothers, U. of Chicago students, clergy and nurses will hold a picket and rally outside a million dollar UofC Hospital fundraiser in the Gold Coast tonight, to demand the University bring trauma care to the South Side. The Booth One Ball, held at the Four Seasons Hotel, is one of the UofC Hospital’s largest annual fundraising events, raising over a million dollars. Tickets to the event cost a minimum of $600 per plate. UofC hospital president Sharon O’Keefe and Dean Kenneth Polonsky are expected to be in attendance at the gala.

Activists will use the event to present a new demand in the campaign: that the UofC raise the age of its pediatric trauma center to treat victims over the age of 15. Dean Polonsky and President O’Keefe have long claimed that they are legally barred from doing so, however, the Illinois Department of Public Health recently clarified in a public letter that they would automatically approve a proposal from a pediatric trauma center to raise its patient age above 15.

“We’re going to the north side to show Dean Polonsky and President O’Keefe that it is unjust for them to be raising millions of dollars if they are unwilling to even discuss providing trauma care to the South Side,” explained Woodlawn youth leader Veronica Morris-Moore. “As a first step to solving this crisis, we’re asking the UofC to raise the age of its pediatric trauma unit from 15 to 21.”

The Gold Coast protest 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 two weeks 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.

What: Protest and picket at $600/plate Gold Coast gala

Where and When: 7 pm at the Four Seasons Hotel, 120 E. Delaware Place

Who: Trauma Care Coalition includes mothers, youth organizers, faith leaders, UofC students, labor unions

Visual: Picket with signs and banners reading “Raise the age!,” “No trauma center, no Obama Library!”

Recent stories on the trauma center campaign:

“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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