UChicago Medicine gets approval to be Level 1 adult trauma center

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The Illinois Department of Public Health has approved the University of Chicago Medicine to be a Level 1 adult trauma center, clearing the final regulatory hurdle for the academic health system to launch the critical service on May 1.

UChicago Medicine’s adult trauma program, which officially begins at 8 a.m. May 1, will include violence recovery and wraparound services designed to help trauma patients successfully transition back into the community, including outpatient psychiatric, behavioral health and social recovery care.

The adult trauma center designation comes on the heels of IDPH’s visit April 3 to UChicago Medicine’s main Hyde Park campus to review the facility and program as part of the application process.

“This is a momentous occasion for our institution and for the South Side, as we expand critical services to our neighbors,” said Selwyn Rogers Jr., MD, chief of trauma and acute care surgery and director of the trauma center. “With this new IDPH adult-trauma designation, UChicago Medicine can offer integrated trauma care, as we build upon services provided by our existing Level 1 pediatric trauma program and the Burn and Complex Wound Center.”

The University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital has been a designated Level 1 pediatric trauma center since 1990.

A trauma center designation means a hospital as a whole has the resources and staffing needed to provide comprehensive, specialized care for patients who suffer a traumatic injury from such causes as motor vehicle crashes, gunshot wounds, burns and falls. The state requires Level 1 trauma care providers to have critical resources and specialists available 24/7. Emergency departments are the primary entry point for trauma patients, who must be stabilized in specialized trauma bays before being moved to other areas of a hospital for additional medical care.

At UChicago Medicine, faculty and staff from about two dozen departments, sections and work units have been laser-focused on preparing to launch adult trauma services since May 2016, when a state regulatory board approved the health system’s proposal to expand critical services to the community. The three-part plan involved redeveloping the Mitchell Hospital as a dedicated cancer-care facility, which allows the addition of 188 much-needed inpatient beds; relocating and building a bigger adult ED, which opened in late December; and offering adult trauma care.

“This IDPH approval could not have been accomplished without the hard work and support of the entire organization,” said Sharon O’Keefe, president of the medical center. “In less than two years since state approval of our proposed plan, our faculty and staff have done a tremendous amount of work and collaboration to open a state-of-the-art adult ED and then be ready to launch adult trauma care.”

The South Side has not had a hospital designated as a Level 1 adult trauma center for 27 years. The now-closed Michael Reese Hospital discontinued its trauma care in 1991, and what was then called the University of Chicago Hospital offered adult trauma service from 1986 until 1988.

“This is a true victory for the community,” said Candace Henley, a local health activist who is the co-chair of UChicago Medicine’s Community Advisory Council. “Community voices played a vital role shaping the hospital’s plan to increase access to critical services and meet the growing needs of its neighbors and patients.”

With UChicago Medicine’s launch of adult trauma services on May 1, Chicago will have five Level 1 adult trauma centers within city limits and four Level 1 pediatric trauma centers.

“Our new adult trauma program represents a significant investment for the South Side,” O’Keefe said. “We will be collaborating with Region 11 trauma directors and the Chicago Fire Department’s EMS teams to be a part of the city’s system of trauma care.”