CHICAGO (CBS) — Youth activists and University of Chicago students marched to the U of C Medical Center to demand that the hospital reopen its trauma center.
“A trauma center is needed everywhere. We have incidents with victims of trauma are taken out of their community about 10 miles away. That is a problem,” said high school senior Jasmine Harris.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports
The hospital closed its trauma center in 1988. U of C officials say at the time, the decision was made to concentrate resources in the clinical specialties.
Officials say the 390-bed facility is a relatively small hospital, and one of the few remaining medical centers on the South Side and treats adults with traumatic injury in its emergency room.
Calls for a new trauma center resurfaced after the death of community activist Damian Turner, 18. He was shot at 61st and Cottage Grove Avenue, only about two blocks from the U of C Medical Center, on Aug. 14, 2010.
He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the nearest trauma center, which was 10 miles away.
Turner’s mother contends that her son might have been saved had he been treated at U of C. She has since been lobbying for a new trauma center on the South Side.
At the protest, demonstrators chanted, “U of C is wack! Bring the trauma center back!” Some students also replicated Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video in a small flash mob dance to symbolize what they say are zombies killed by traumatic injuries.
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.
Level 1 trauma centers are required to have specialists on hand 24 hours a day.