Demand Trauma Center on Chicago’s South Side

Target: Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center

Goal: Open a trauma center to service residents of the South Side of Chicago

Due to crumbling infrastructure, extreme poverty, and gang activity, the South Side of Chicago tends to see heightened levels of violence–especially shootings among young men and women. But despite the unfortunately common occurrence of traumatic injury in the area, there is no nearby trauma center to service victims of gunshot wounds, car accidents, and other incidents. The University of Chicago Medical Center closed the doors of the only adult trauma center on the South Side in 1988, and despite protests from local residents, it has made no plans to open a similar facility in the future.

The need for a South Side trauma center became appallingly obvious in 2010, when Damian Turner, the unintended victim of a stray bullet, died after being transported 10 miles to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Turner was shot just three and a half blocks from the U. of C. Medical Center. A trauma center in close proximity might have saved his life.

The U. of C. Medical Center currently operates a pediatric trauma center, but will not admit patients over the age of 16. While trauma centers may require expensive operating costs, such a facility does not appear to be beyond the means of the University. The Center’s brand new $700 million hospital has led many local residents to question its allocation of resources. Recent protests inside the new facility were met with a violent response from University police, who pinned dissenters to the ground and knocked cameras out of their hands. Four of an estimated 50 protesters were arrested.

The University of Chicago has a responsibility to its surrounding community. Denying residents a trauma center near a high-crime area of the city demonstrates an abject neglect of civic duty. Tell the U. of C. Medical Center to open a new South Side trauma center as soon as possible.


Dear Dr. Polonsky,

Every year, numerous individuals–many of them teens and young adults–suffer traumatic injuries on Chicago’s South Side. As the only hospital in this area of the city, the University of Chicago Medical Center’s lack of an adult trauma center seems an appalling oversight given the needs of the surrounding community.

While it might seem practical to engineer the Medical Center to serve only students, faculty, and alumni of the University, it’s also shockingly negligent. Doctors such as yourself have a responsibility to help the sick and the injured, regardless of their background or status. Denying trauma care to an impoverished community that desperately needs it will only cost lives. In fact, it already has.

I urge you to consider the needs of all South Side residents and begin allocating resources toward a new trauma center.


[Your Name Here]

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