South Side trauma centers launch new collaboration that expands and strengthens region’s violence recovery ecosystem


Continuing an ongoing effort to respond to the public health crisis of intentional violence, the University of Chicago Medicine and Advocate Christ Medical Center are joining forces to form Southland RISE (Resilience Initiative to Strengthen and Empower), a new collaborative designed to better care for individuals, families and communities on the South Side and south suburban communities.

Leaders from the two major trauma centers were joined by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and community partners on April 23 to announce the new effort during a news conference at the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago’s Laura Parks and Mildred Francis Center.

Caring for a combined 6,600 adult trauma patients in 2018, UChicago Medicine and Advocate Christ Medical Center house two of the busiest trauma centers in the Chicago area – treating patients from communities on the South Side and south suburbs. Both provide a suite of violence recovery services to help patients and their families with immediate and long-term needs in managing the physical and mental-health effects of trauma from intentional violence. The Southland RISE collaborative will focus on strengthening and integrating existing violence recovery and trauma care services within the two medical systems and throughout surrounding communities.

The new partnership is a result of Chicago HEAL – Hospital Engagement, Action and Leadership – an initiative launched by Durbin in October 2018 to urge health care providers on the city’s South and West Sides to bolster their efforts to help reduce violence and address health care needs associated with violence recovery. According to the Chicago Police Department, more than 560 residents were killed and nearly 3,000 were injured as a result of gun violence in 2018.

“I convened the Chicago HEAL Initiative last year to help bring together the world-class healing power and economic footprint of our leading hospitals to directly reduce violence and address health disparities in our communities,” Durbin said. “I commend UChicago Medicine and Advocate Christ Medical Center for their leadership and collaboration to enhance trauma recovery services for the patients, families and communities of the South Side.”

UChicago Medicine’s Violence Recovery Program is supported by a multidisciplinary team and network of community partners. Those services include crisis intervention, psychological first aid, re-injury risk assessment, safe discharge planning, community-based service provider referrals, case management and more. In addition to providing these direct services, violence recovery programs help patients and families navigate external health care and social services. UChicago Medicine has cared for 3,058 trauma patients from May 1, 2018, through March 31, 2019 – about a quarter of which receive help from violence recovery specialists.

“As an integral part of the South Side’s trauma care network, UChicago Medicine is dedicated to providing patients and their families with the expert, comprehensive and holistic care needed to restore their health and well-being, starting in the Emergency Department and continuing in the days, weeks and months beyond discharge,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, dean and executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago. “Through partnerships with Advocate Christ Medical Center and our valued community-based partners, we have an opportunity to leverage resources and economies of scale, identify and build best practices for trauma care and recovery, and make the trauma recovery ecosystem even more robust and beneficial to our patients and communities.”

UChicago Medicine launched its adult trauma program in May 2018. In combination with the academic medical center’s long-standing pediatric trauma program as well as its burn unit, it now offers a comprehensive system of care to treat the full range of trauma injuries in patients of all ages.

Advocate Christ Medical Center operates one of the four busiest trauma centers in Illinois caring for 4,355 trauma patients last year. An additional 114,071 patients were treated in the adult and children’s emergency departments. With Advocate Children’s Hospital-Oak Lawn sharing the Level 1 Trauma Center, Advocate Health Care’s Oak Lawn campus provides the highest level of trauma care for patients of all ages.

To further support trauma care, Advocate Health Care opened a Trauma Recovery Center in south Chicagoland in 2018. The purpose of the Center is to aid individuals who have experienced trauma in rebuilding, restoring and strengthening their sense of safety by ending the cycle of violence. The Center supports a health care-based violence intervention program that provides quality services and resources to survivors of intentional trauma with compassion, respect and care. The multidisciplinary team is specially trained to support the unique needs of survivors and their families with services such as individual and group therapy, support and advocacy groups, outpatient clinical assessments, medication management, safety and self-care guidance and case management

“Advocate Health Care is pleased to collaborate with UChicago Medicine to launch Southland RISE. The key components of this relationship include collaborative violence prevention efforts, partnership in work force development initiatives, and enhanced community partnerships to address social determinants of health,” said Matthew L. Primack, president, Advocate Christ Medical Center.

In addition to integrating the violence recovery programs of both institutions, Southland RISE collaborative will pursue the following initiatives in the next 18-24 months:

  • Aligning services provided through our respective violence recovery programs to better serve the Southland population impacted by violence.
  • Coordinating wraparound services to support the holistic emotional, behavioral, social needs of the Southland population impacted by violence.
  • Providing rapid-cycle grant funding for grassroots violence prevention and recovery programs in the Southland to support community organizations over the summer.
  • Developing trauma-informed care training and toolkit that can be utilized by community partners throughout the Southland and beyond.
  • Hosting a joint community summit on violence prevention, involving health care providers, community-based organizations, policy makers, civic, community and academic leaders to mobilize towards solutions for violence recovery.

“Southland RISE is invested in lifting and healing communities and people fractured by gun violence and trauma,” said Brenda Battle, vice president of UChicago Medicine’s Urban Health Initiative and chief diversity, inclusion and equity officer. “Through Southland Rise, Advocate Christ Medical Center and UChicago Medicine will be better positioned to leverage our respective violence recovery programs to support persons impacted by violence and trauma, grow the network of trauma recovery resources and build capacity for community-based organizations to serve patients and families affected by trauma.”