University of Chicago Medicine expects to pony up nearly $270 million to reopen an adult trauma center and expand services on its South Side campus.
The plan, called Get Care, aims to fill a gap in programs the community has called for and boost access in other areas. The proposal calls for a Level I adult trauma center, relocating and expanding the chronically overcrowded adult emergency room and transforming the 33-year-old Mitchell Hospital into a facility that specializes in cancer care with 188 more inpatient beds.
More than 1,000 people would be hired to fill new jobs, akin to staffing a new community hospital.
“It's a dramatic step to increase access to health care on the South Side of Chicago, not just for trauma, but also to respond to the needs of the ER and complex care,” U of C Medical Center President Sharon O'Keefe said in an interview Feb. 16. “We're making a huge investment in this project over the coming years.”
The details of the proposal were disclosed in an application the Hyde Park-based academic medical center filed recently with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board. The board decides the fate of health care projects to prevent duplication of services and must approve the plan.
U of C Medicine is a three-hospital system focused on research. It has long been a destination for the sickest patients who need top specialists, notably experts in cancer treatment. But the system is so full it turns away patients, some of whom have fewer places to go as hospitals in other South Side neighborhoods have closed.
Its tough stance in particular against reopening its long-closed trauma center for adults triggered years of protests. Adults who were shot or in horrific car accidents were taken to other centers miles away. The system does have a Level I pediatric trauma center, the highest state designation.
In September, U of C Medicine answered activists' pleas by announcing a partnership with Sinai Health System to build a center at its Holy Cross Hospital on the Southwest Side. But just three months later, U of C Medicine dropped Sinai from its plans and decided to built its own center on campus after all.