Trauma Documents

The Latest Statement on Trauma Care on the South Side

March 2015

Building an adult level 1 trauma center on the South Side is not something the University of Chicago Medical Center can undertake alone. A trauma center is a demanding public service that requires a geographic assessment, as well as coordination and planning by the city, state and health care providers throughout Chicago. Many states have been successful in funding trauma systems, but a universal solution has yet to be found.

Medical center leaders have had and continue to have discussions with government agencies and other area health care providers about ways to improve the health of the South Side. Among ongoing topics are violence prevention and trauma care. They remain open to working with the state, city, county and other health care providers to evaluate the needs of the South Side and the long-term financial and operational realities of running an adult trauma center.

In the meantime, the University of Chicago Medical Center must continue to focus on supporting other distinctive lifesaving services critical to the community, including:

  • Comprehensive emergency departments for adults and children.
  • The South Side's only trauma center for children, which also requires vast staffing and resources. The medical center has taken formal steps to raise the age limit of its pediatric program to include 16- and 17-year-old children.
  • A neonatal intensive care unit, which is among the largest in the Midwest.
  • The South Side's only burn unit (one of two in Chicago), which requires vast resources involving multidisciplinary teams of physicians, nurses and other caregivers, in addition to specialized equipment.
  • The city's only hospital-based emergency helicopter service, which also serves Northwest Indiana.
  • Providing $283 million in in benefits and services to the community, or 22.5 percent of its operating expenses.

Preventing Violence

The University of Chicago and the medical center are committed to the essential issue of violence prevention. The following initiatives are just some examples of the University of Chicago's broad effort to identify and address the causes of violent crime:

  • We've contributed $250,000 to support the Bronzeville Dream Center, which uses an innovative approach to avert behaviors that may lead to conflict. The South Side-based center will use faith leaders to provide post-trauma counseling and other support to victims of gun and other types of violence.
  • We have provided $120,000 to sponsor a "violence interrupter" to monitor, mediate and defuse disputes in neighborhoods that the medical campus serves.
  • We've also trained some of our nurses to help rape victims under the state's Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program.
  • We've sponsored "It Shoudda Been Me," a play that's been seen by thousands of Chicago Public School students to help them understand the emotional and psychological issues surrounding violence.
  • The University's Crime Lab and Urban Education Lab perform vital research around understanding violence. For example, they have shown that targeted tutoring and mentoring for at-risk high school students decreased their arrests for violence crime by 44 percent.

Patient Care and Commitment to the Community

The University of Chicago Medicine performed a rigorous Community Health Needs Assessment to obtain community input on the top health issues. We were told the biggest concern is access to high-quality medical care. The analysis, conducted in 2012, also uncovered these other health care priorities: diabetes, childhood obesity and asthma, as well as cancer -- particularly breast and colorectal cancer.

While work continues to address these community health concerns, the direct impact of providing patient care to the South Side are evident in these facts:

  • Our adult and pediatric emergency rooms are among the busiest in Chicago, with almost 47,000 adult visits and nearly 30,000 pediatric visits in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013.
  • We get more than 900 critically ill or injured transferred patients a year from community hospitals.
  • Our Comer Children's Hospital's trauma center cared for 260 seriously injured children last year.
  • In the last fiscal year, our burn unit treated about 300 patients; a third came from the South Side.
  • We deliver 1,500 newborns a year, about 1,000 of whom are from the South Side.
  • About 50 percent of our pediatric intensive care patients come from neighboring communities.
  • Outreach programs provide free basic care and screenings on the South Side. One example, our pediatric mobile unit visited 25 schools -- mostly on the South Side -- to offer free immunizations in fiscal year 2013.

In addition to those clinical services, the University of Chicago Medicine devotes a large portion of its resources to community benefits and services. In fiscal 2013, the University of Chicago Medicine provided $283 million in benefits and services to the community, or 22.5 percent of its operating expenses. These include:

  • $153.6 million in uncompensated care (which covers Medicare and Medicaid program losses, charity care and unrecoverable patient debt). This is one of the highest rates of uncompensated medical care in Illinois.
  • $78.9 million in medical education (the cost to teach and train future health care professionals not covered by tuition, grants and scholarships).
  • $48.3 million in medical research (funding to investigate ways to better prevent, detect and treat disease and to advance patient care).
  • $2.2 million in other benefits (volunteers, language assistance, community activities and services, cash and in-kind donations, etc.).

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