By AARON GETTINGER
The Illinois Department of Public Health approved the University of Chicago Medical Center to be a Level I Adult Trauma Center, following submission of the center’s trauma plan. The hospital will take on this designation on May 1 at 8 a.m., becoming the first such trauma center on the South Side in 27 years.
The state public health department defines Level I centers as being able to provide all essential services in-house 24 hours a day. The trauma center will stabilize patients who have suffered from major trauma, like gunshots or serious car accidents, before they are transferred elsewhere.
Eighteen new surgeons and other specialists have been hired to work at the trauma center. The faculty has expertise in radiology and neuroscience, and the medical center reorganization has placed emphasis on trauma patients’ psychiatric and psychological care. Internal and external staff training has taken place for over a year.
Administrators said the total cost of the facilities project is $39 million, and yearly operating expenses will be $45 million.
Currently, the nearest Level I Adult Trauma Center is Northwestern Memorial Hospital, 251 E. Huron St., in Streeterville. The U. of C. trauma center will be the fifth in Chicago when it opens.
The U. of C. Medical Center has enlarged significantly in recent years as heathcare facilities have ebbed across the South Side. Administrators said that it is often over 90 percent occupied. It is currently redeveloping the 188-bed Mitchell Hospital, 5841 S. Maryland Ave., to focus on cancer care, and a new adult emergency department, which prefigured the trauma center, opened Dec. 29.