Closing a more than quarter-century gap in trauma care on the South Side of Chicago, IL, the University of Chicago Medicine (UCM) is
building a Level 1 adult trauma center, part of a new
and expanded emergency department (ED), which is
expected to cut travel time to surgery by 50 percent.
The call for an adult trauma center at the university
gained momentum in 2010 after the death of drive-by
shooting victim Damian Turner. Mr. Turner, 18 years
old, was shot three blocks from UCM, but died en route
to Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s adult trauma
center located on the Near North Side of Chicago.
The South Side of Chicago has been without an adult
trauma center since 1991.
Selwyn O. Rogers, Jr., MD, MPH, FACS, formerly
chief medical officer, University of Texas Medical
Branch, Galveston, will lead the development of the
new adult trauma center, which is scheduled to open
in spring 2018. Dr. Rogers, a public health expert and
chief, section for trauma and acute care surgery, UCM
Trauma Center, has acknowledged the challenging
history between UCM and the South Side of Chicago,
and is focused on specifically addressing the health
care needs of the underserved communities in the area.
This article describes the state-of-the-art development of UCM’s new ED and adult trauma center—which
will feature an efficient design plan to reduce wait,
admission, and discharge times—and to identify how
this center could be a model for adult trauma program
expansion in other urban areas.
A demonstrated need for the
new ED/adult trauma center
The number of adult visits at UCM’s current ED, built
in 1983, continues to increase, according to UCM
administrators, and would fail to meet the needs of
the community without this expansion. From 2009 to
2016, adult ED visits grew from 39,000 to more than
59,000.5 In addition, as many as 6,000 patients choose to
leave UCM’s ED each year without being seen because
of excessive wait times.
6 The new ED will be 76 percent larger ( 29,017 square feet versus 16,517 square feet)
than the present structure and will accommodate more
patients and their care more efficiently.
The UCM adult trauma center will be one of five
such centers in Chicago, including Stroger Hospital
(formerly Cook County Hospital) and Mount Sinai
on the West Side, Northwestern Memorial Hospital,
and Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center on
the North Side. Other Level 1 adult trauma centers
in Cook County are in the suburbs of Oak Lawn,
Maywood, Park Ridge, and Evanston. Patients who
are critically injured on the South Side of the city, as
was the case with Mr. Turner, are routinely taken to
centers that are far from the point of injury to receive
adult trauma care.
A study published in the June 2013 issue of the
American Journal of Public Health revealed relative “trauma
deserts” in certain areas of Chicago, which “adversely
affected mortality from gunshot wounds,” particularly for patients who have longer transport times.
“A big part of my role—in addition to
setting up a Level 1 trauma center—
is community engagement.... How
can we possibly fix a problem, if we
don’t get close to a problem? At the
University of Chicago Medicine, we’re
not simply waiting for the trauma
to happen and then reacting to it.”