(CBS) — It wasn’t just a ground breaking today. For the South Side of Chicago, it’s a breakthrough.
A trauma center coming to the University of Chicago Medical Center.
CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley reports on years of protest that moved an institution to act.
With the turn of a shovel, and smiles all around, work officially begins on the U of C’s new $43 million emergency room and trauma center.
But the university only moved forward with the project after years of protests about the lack of trauma services on the South Side.
“When my son, Kevin, passed, one of the things I had to think about was, would he have had a better chance of survival if he had was transported to a local trauma center?” says Ebony Ambrose.
Nineteen-year-old Kevin Ambrose, a Columbia College theater major, was shot outside the 47th Street Green Line station. He died on the way to Cook County’s Stroger Hospital, the nearest trauma center, nearly 7 miles away.
Kevin’s death helped power a movement by his peers.
“I told them it’s a more powerful movement if it comes from the kids, because these are the people that are actually affected by it. Any one of these kids involved in this could have easily become gunshot victims themselves,” Ebony Ambrose says.
The U of C closed its adult trauma center in 1988, leaving a vacuum in where violence was rising.
“Race was a very important aspect of it going forward. We felt there was no desire to save black lives that were victims of black violence,” says Eric Russell of Justice League of Illinois.
Years of protest followed. The university listened. A grieving mother is grateful.
“Regardless of what side of the gun you’re on, we have a right to that level of care, and to have a fighting chance of being able to stay alive,” Ambrose says.
After her son’s death, Ebony Ambrose moved from the South Side, and now works at the Cradle Adoption Agency, needing to be involved in something beneficial.
The trauma center is scheduled to open in 2018.