Since 1991, Oak Lawn’s Advocate Christ Hospital has been the only Level 1 Adult Trauma Center on the south side since the former Michael Reese Hospital closed its trauma center.
Former Oak Lawn Trustee Harold Mozwecz once suggested charging Advocate Christ Hospital for the time spent by Oak Lawn’s police department at the hospital. The increased activity was caused by the increase in patients from Chicago’s south side, who were often transported past other hospitals to reach the only Level 1 Trauma Center.
On May 1st, the University of Chicago Medicine’s Level 1 trauma center opened and in a week, it reportedly treated 64 patients, including 42 percent for wounds related to gunshots, stabbings and impalements. The other 58 percent of the patients were treated for blunt trauma issues, such as car crashes, falls or assaults.
U. of C.’s Trauma Center is expected to treat 2,000 or more patients in the first year. The hospital also provides other after care services that are designed to transition patients back into the community. Some of those services are psychiatric care and behavioral health services. Those are patients that ordinarily would have been diverted to Oak Lawn for care.
The University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital has been a designated Level 1 pediatric trauma center since 1990 but the gap in adult trauma services was often complained about by south side Chicago residents who were shipped to Oak Lawn. The people of Oak Lawn have been also vocal in disliking the previous system, which has often been seen as draining governmental services locally.
The “trauma center” designation is awarded by the Illinois Department of Public Health after reviewing the hospital’s resources and staffing to ensure that it can provide specialized care for people who suffer traumatic injuries from incidents such as gunshot woulds, burns, falls, and automobile crashes. IDPH requires Level 1 trauma care providers to have critical resources and specialists available every hour of the day and every day of the week. At trauma centers, the emergency departments are the primary entry point for trauma patients, who receive care within the emergency room before being moved to operating rooms or other ares for continued medical 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.”
Chicago now has five Level 1 adult trauma centers within city limits and four Level 1 pediatric trauma centers. Oak Lawn’s Advocate Christ Medical Center should have less patients and the residents may have more patience with the hospital.