Trauma center push runs all week

By LINDSAY WELBERS
Staff Writer

Trauma care advocates last week held a week-long series of informational sessions, protests, sit-ins and marches to demand a Level 1 adult trauma care center on the South Side.

The week of protests brought greater attention to the demand for a Level 1 trauma care center, to treat victims of car accidents, gunshots and other grievous injuries. Currently those patients need to travel to the nearest trauma care center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital or the south suburbs.

The Trauma Care Coalition (TCC), an organization of South Side groups demanding the center, are becoming more vocal just as the University of Chicago lobbies to be the location for the Barack Obama Presidential Library.

“If they do not open a Level 1 trauma center then they do not deserve the Obama library and it should go to another institute on the South Side of Chicago,” said Veronica Morris-Moore, a member of Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY).

Morris-Moore was injured during a sit-in protest on Monday when members of the University of Chicago Police officers dragged her by a PVC tube, tied around her wrist using string.

“I tried to seek medical attention [afterwards]. I left in an ambulance because I couldn’t feel my pinky and I couldn’t move my wrist at all,” Morris-Moore said.

She was taken from the site of the protest, a construction site at 58th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue, to the University of Chicago Medical Center emergency room, 5841 S. Maryland Ave.

There, Morris-Moore said UCPD officers guarded the front door to the ER and also stood watching her as she attempted to register with a nurse. Additionally, Leif Elsmo, UCMC executive director for the Office of Community and External Affairs, stood close to Morris-Moore and did not leave when she asked him to.

“He was standing behind me at the registration desk, just watching over everything that was happening between me and the nurses, and I told him I didn’t want him anywhere near me,” Morris-Moore said. “He didn’t respect my privacy to receive care in a comfortable area.”

Shortly after she received an ice pack from a nurse, Morris-Moore left the ER — before she sought treatment from a doctor.

“I left because I was very uncomfortable. The people who put me in the ER are now in the ER intimidating me,” Morris-Moore said.

Citing privacy concerns, Lorna Wong from the medical center declined to comment on Morris-Moore’s experience at the ER but said the security presence was routine.

“As to campus police, the Medical Center always maintains security in its emergency department. While we would like to believe that protesters would not let their zeal interfere with patients seeking emergency care, we cannot assume that will be the case and must act at all times to ensure the safety of our patients and staff,” said Wong. 

Protestors say a Level 1 trauma care center could save hundreds of lives lost to violence or accidents.

South Side trauma care advocates have been demanding the trauma center since 2007. The university began vocally lobbying for the Obama library, a project it estimates to cost $380 million in construction costs alone, since earlier this year.

The advocates have seen a flurry of media coverage as a result of the week of protests and connection to the Obama library.

Morris-Moore said that means more people putting pressure on the U. of C. to build a trauma care center on its campus.

l.welbers@hpherald.com