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Protesters: U Of C Hospital Must Treat Gunshot Victims

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U Of C Protest

Protesters call for a trauma center at the University of Chicago Medical Center. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Protesters camped out at the University of Chicago Medical Center on Monday, calling for better emergency care on the city’s South Side.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, on Aug. 14 of last year, community activist Damian Turner was hit by gunfire in a drive-by shooting at 61st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. The 18-year-old was an unintended target.

The U of C Medical Center lies just a few blocks away. But because the hospital does not have a trauma center equipped to treat most gunshot victims, paramedics had to drive him to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, about 10 miles away, in the Streeterville neighborhood.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

Turner was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

His family and friends believe he may have survived if he had been treated somewhere in closer proximity.

“We’re not going to win this by convincing them it’s the right thing to do,” protester Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle said. “We’re going to win this by pestering them and making sure they do it, and we’re going to win. There’s no doubt in my mind. They have more tax breaks than any hospital on the South Side — just about than any in the city.”

The U of C has issued the following statement: “Trauma care is part of a much larger issue of unmet health care needs, shrinking care is part of a much larger issue of unmet health care needs, shrinking resources, and the necessity for a coordinated regional response on the South Side.

“Although the medical center continues to serve as a pediatric trauma center, it does not currently have the resources to handle both pediatric and adult trauma centers.”

There are four trauma centers in the city – Northwestern, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Stroger Hospital of Cook County, and Mt. Sinai Hospital. Pediatric units are housed at Mt. Sinai, the U of C’s Comer Children’s Hospital, and Children’s Memorial Hospital.

Currently, there is no adult trauma center on the South Side. Still, many in the medical community say Chicagoans — no matter where they live — are far from under-served.

In fact, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Chicago area has more than 40 adult trauma centers. Compare that to neighboring Indiana, which has just seven to serve the entire state.

The U of C hosted a trauma center for adults at one time, but that has not been the case since 1988.

Level 1 trauma centers are required to have specialists on hand 24 hours a day.

Protesters planned to remain outside the U of C hospital until 11 p.m. Monday.

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