CHICAGO (CBS) — For the first time in 27 years, the South Side of Chicago will have a hospital with a Level 1 adult trauma center on May 1, when the University of Chicago launches its new program.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has given the university final approval for the trauma center at its new emergency room, which opened in December.

“This is a momentous occasion for our institution and for the South Side, as we expand critical services to our neighbors,” said Dr. Selwyn Rogers Jr., director of the trauma center.

University of Chicago Medicine already had a Level 1 pediatric trauma center at Comer Children’s Hospital, but the South Side has not had a Level 1 adult trauma center since 1991, when Michael Reese Hospital halted trauma care. Since then, the only Chicago area hospital with a Level 1 adult trauma center south of 15th Street has been Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

Without an adult trauma center on the South Side, victims of major trauma often have been forced to travel up to 10 miles via ambulance to Christ, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, or other trauma centers in the Illinois Medical District along the Eisenhower Expressway to receive the advanced medical care they need.

Activists on the South Side for years demanded the University of Chicago add an adult trauma center to its Hyde Park hospital campus. In September 2015, the university announced plans to team up with Sinai Health Systems to open a trauma center at Holy Cross Hospital in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood, but that was not enough for many critics who said that plan would have left some parts of the South Side more than five miles from a trauma center.

In December 2015, the university scrapped that plan, and announced it would add a trauma center to its Hyde Park campus as part of a larger expansion of the hospital, including the new emergency department that opened in December 2017 at 56th and Maryland. The expansion plan allowed for the addition of 188 new inpatient beds at the hospital, which will come online when the cancer facility is built in about four years.

The university said the new emergency department is the newest and most advanced of its kind in Chicago, replacing the old emergency room inside the Mitchell Hospital building at 58th and Maryland. The old Mitchell Hospital building was turned into a cancer care facility.

The trauma center designation indicates the hospital has the resources and staffing necessary to provide comprehensive medical care for patients suffering major injuries from traffic crashes, shootings, burns, falls, and more.