South Siders Call on President Obama to Intervene in Trauma Center Debate

Activists to deliver letter and statement at Pullman dedication event

Chicago, IL –(ENEWSPF)—February 19, 2015. South Side activists are bringing their demands for a trauma center at the University of Chicago Hospital to Pullman, where President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak today. The delegation, which will consist of youth leaders, U of C students, community organizers, and teachers will beasking Obama to call for a trauma center at the University of Chicago Hospital before he decides to place his Presidential Library at the prestigious Hyde Park institution. They plan on delivering a letter to the President.

“We’re excited that the President is going to be back in Chicago just like we’re excited about the possibility of his presidential library coming to the South Side,” explained Woodlawn youth organizer Veronica Morris-More. “But we want to make sure that Obama knows that the community needs a trauma center.”

Organizers also plan to take Mayor Rahm Emanuel to task for disinvesting in South Side resources – from closing schools and mental health clinics – to the Mayor’s refusal to apply pressure on University of Chicago President Zimmer to open a trauma center.

Activists note that Emanuel has come out vocally in support of the University of Chicago’s  bid for the Obama Library by expediting the transfer of parkland to the city for the library. “Rahm has said he would move heaven and earth to make sure the library would be in Chicago,” explained youth organizer Veronica Morris-Moore, “ Why he can’t do the same to save black lives on the South Side?.”

Activists are optimistic that the attention they are bringing to the lack of trauma care is bringing results. In December, the University of Chicago agreed to raise the age limit of its pediatric trauma center by two years, a move organizers had long demanded as a stop-gap measure. That decision coincided with increased public attention in the run-up to the deadline for proposals to host the Obama Library.

The community’s demand for trauma care was sparked by the death of Woodlawn youth leader Damian Turner, and is led by the Woodlawn-based Fearless Leading by the Youth, along with the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, Students for Health Equity at the UofC, National Nurses United and many faith groups including the United Church of Christ.

The South Side is currently a trauma desert for adults, meaning that victims of shootings and other serious injuries must be taken over ten miles away, to the Near North Side or south west suburbs. The call for trauma care is also supported by a new study by the Illinois Department of Public Health which states that longer travel times to a trauma center increases the likelihood of dying, the study also states that the U of C is best positioned to expand access to trauma care, and that the U of C could further raise the age limit of their pediatric trauma center.

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Recent stories on the trauma center campaign:

Here’s What U of C Should Do for the City” Crain’s Chicago Business

Protestors link Obama library with #BlackLivesMatter,” Bloomberg

UofC Wants to Raise Age Limit at Pediatric Trauma Center,” The Chicago Sun-Times

UofC Aims to Expand Treatment at Children’s Trauma Center,” The Chicago Tribune

Trauma center protesters target U. of C. capital campaign,” The Chicago Maroon

Chicago Faith Leaders Sing, Pray For A South Side Trauma Center ,” Progress Illinois

Religious leaders march for South Side trauma center,” Hyde Park Herald

South Side Hospital Patients Caught in Trauma Deserts,” (Feature Story), Chicago Tribune

University of Chicago Alumni: No Donations Until Trauma Center Opened,” Progress Illinois

Chicago needs help, not Obama Library,” LZ Granderson, CNN.com

Activists protest university’s bid for Obama Library,” USA Today