By LINDSAY WELBERS
After four people were arrested following an attempted sit-in at the University of Chicago Medicine’s new hospital last month, the calls to have access to an adult trauma care center on the South Side have increased. Protestors have also called for the U. of C. to explain the violence that police showed during the incident, and have started a petition with more than 1,800 signatures as of Herald press time.
The altercation took place on Sunday, Jan. 27 at the Center for Care and Discovery. Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY) organized the protest to request that the U. of C. increase the age for patients at the Comer Children’s Hospital’s trauma center from 15 to 21, a move they say could save lives.
The four people who were arrested – Alex Goldenberg, Victoria Crider, Jacob Klippenstein and Toussaint Lousier – were all charged with misdemeanor trespassing. Lousier was also charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest.
FLY said they had intended to sit-in at the new hospital, which is not yet open to patients, but University of Chicago police officers removed them using unnecessary force and violence. A YouTube video of the incident has been viewed nearly 6,000 times.
Protestors once again marched on Friday from the Arley D. Cathey Learning Center, 1116 E. 59th St., to the Administration Building 5801 S. Ellis Ave., to deliver the petition signatures. FLY organizer Duff Morton said the event lasted roughly an hour and, despite temperatures dropping to single-digits, roughly 250 people stayed for the march.
“It was a beautiful display of civic discourse even in the face of a very uncivil moment … that people could use their civil voices to speak back,” Morton said. Marchers delivered roses and lilies, each bearing the name of someone who has been affected by gun violence to U. of C. president Robert Zimmer’s office.
Protestors encouraged the university to drop the charges against the four people who were arrested on Sunday. Additionally, Morton said they wanted “to demand a discourse about the trauma center. We want to stitch together these two questions. There’s a form of exclusion going on both that [South Siders] are excluded from trauma care and that [students] are excluded from talking about trauma care.”
A trauma center would provide specialized and immediate care to young victims of gun violence or automobile accidents. Currently the nearest adult trauma center is Northwestern Memorial Hospital, 251 E. Huron St.
FLY has also demanded that the university conduct a feasibility study to evaluate the possibility of building a new trauma center on the South Side.
“We feel that if the university is going to have a trauma center for children, that means children,” said FLY organizer Veronica Morris-Moore, a 20-year-old South Side resident. “Some of us are 20 years old. I’m a child in my mother’s eyes. We feel that’s at least something they can do.”
In the wake of the incident, Provost Thomas Rosenbaum said via press release that the university will be hosting “faculty-led dialogues that will provide venues for broader, campus-wide engagement with such concerns,” related to student protests, policing, health care and how the university interacts with the surrounding neighborhoods. “These examinations of university values and aspirations will supplement more formal and focused review processes already taking place,” Rosenbaum said in a release issued on Friday.
In the same statement, Rosenbaum said he would assemble a committee to review and make recommendations about campus protests and how they should be handled. Lastly, Rosenbaum said “the Medical Center’s leadership will host a discussion of the role of the University of Chicago Medicine in providing healthcare to the South Side of Chicago including inpatient, outpatient, emergency room, community programs and trauma care.”
The university has not responded to FLY’s demand for a feasibility study. However on the University of Chicago Medicine’s website a list a frequently asked questions does address the request to raise the age of patients to 21.
“The age range for trauma care at Comer Children’s Hospital is in accordance with the Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Center Code adopted by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The guidelines are based on longstanding medical opinion pointing to improved outcomes for patients 15 years of age and younger when treated under a pediatric protocol by specially trained physicians, supported by staff and equipment solely dedicated to meeting their unique needs. Please consult the Illinois Department of Public Health or the American College of Surgeons for more on this medical standard.”