University of Chicago breaks ground on new trauma care unit

(Left to right) State Rep. Barbara Flynn Curie (D-25), University of Chicago executive vice president for medical affairs Dr. Kenneth S. Polonsky, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, University of Chicago president Robert Zimmer, Fifth Ward alderman Leslie Hairston, Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle, Reverend Richard Tolliver, University of Chicago Medical Center president Sharon O’Keefe, University of Chicago Medical Center board president Emily Nicklin, and Chicago Deputy Mayor Andrea Zopp participate in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the University of Chicago Medical Center adult trauma center, Thursday, Sept.15.

(Left to right) State Rep. Barbara Flynn Curie (D-25), University of Chicago executive vice president for medical affairs Dr. Kenneth S. Polonsky, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, University of Chicago president Robert Zimmer, Fifth Ward alderman Leslie Hairston, Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle, Reverend Richard Tolliver, University of Chicago Medical Center president Sharon O’Keefe, University of Chicago Medical Center board president Emily Nicklin, and Chicago Deputy Mayor Andrea Zopp participate in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the University of Chicago Medical Center adult trauma center, Thursday, Sept.15.

By Meredith Ogilvie
Staff Writer

Thursday Sept. 15, the University of Chicago Medicine broke ground on a new and expanded emergency department that will not only offer Level 1 adult trauma care but bring economic growth back to the south side, according to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.

“We’re grateful to the university not only for what it does for students but what it will do for the south side, both in healthcare and the economic development in the jobs that will come,” Emanuel said.

The new center is expected to bring in 1,000 permanent jobs to staff the facility and 400 construction positions to build the facility.

Ald. Leslie Hairston (4th) stressed the importance of community as the effort to get the trauma center took the dedication of hundreds of officials that wrote letters, supporters that traveled downstate to appeal to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review for the center and residents that never gave up, “this is what civic engagement looks like,” she said.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, a U. of C. graduate, thanked the University for its willingness to invest significant resources into the community but also made a special point to thank the activists and advocates in the audience “that had the courage to stand up and encourage the university to do the right thing.”

Hyde Park resident Sheila Clay said knowing that a trauma center will be built on the South Side is exciting news.

“This seems to be where the tragedy is concentrated and the fact that there is now a place for us to go when an emergency happens is tremendous and a long time coming,” Clay said.

The new infrastructure will support 25,000 patient visits per year, an increase of 40 percent in the number of patients the hospital can currently treat. The new facility will be 76 percent larger expanding from 16, 517 square feet to 29,017 gross square feet upon completion.

Other features of the new design twill cut waiting, admitting and discharge times, reduce travel time from the trauma center to operating rooms by 50 percent from 15 minutes down to seven minutes, there will be 41 treatment stations, four trauma resuscitation bays, seven rapid assessment units, four psychiatric rooms, one bariatric room as well as dedicated imaging and on-site bio containment units. Patients will also have more privacy with separate rooms instead of curtained off cubicles.

Pending necessary regulatory approvals, construction and staff recruitments, the new emergency department is scheduled to open in January 2018 with trauma services offered by spring of 2018.

m.ogilvie@hpherald.com