New U of C trauma center has busy first month

CHICAGO -- In the month since it opened the University of Chicago Medicine's new Level I adult trauma center has been busy.

In the past four weeks, the emergency room has helped take the pressure off other Level I trauma centers, such as Northwestern, Mt. Sinai, Christ and Stroger.

“For the month of May, U. of C. was the busiest trauma center in the city and actually in the state too,” Leslee Stein-Spencer, acting division chief of EMS for Illinois, said.

University of Chicago officials point out that number is based on Chicago Fire Department transports.

The hospital reports it has cared for 274 adult trauma patients since opening on May 1. That’s an average of nine patients a day.

The hospital saw an increase over the Memorial Day holiday. They treated 44 adults.

Most of the injuries were from car crashes and serious falls, but 38 percent were injuries such as gunshot wounds and stabbings.

“I think having something like this in the South Side of Chicago is super important and fundamental to kind of just deal with the violence going on in our community,” Lali Avila, Alliance of the South East, said.

The South Side had been without a Level I trauma center for almost 30 years.

Activists held rallies and demonstrations, arguing patients died while having to travel to hospitals 10 miles away. Community groups working to stem the violence are grateful to have the crucial care closer to home.

“Individuals coming from Englewood going to Northwestern and there were some tragedies in that commute, so for us having a backyard trauma center is a very great resource in the community, unfortunately as we are working to reduce violence, it’s still happening, so we need to be able to respond appropriately,” Christa Hamilton, Center for New Horizons, said.

The university is also trying to help stem the violence on the front end.