Activists Urge President Obama To Support Trauma Center In South Side Chicago

Chicago activists are calling for President Obama to aid in raising awareness for the construction of an adult trauma center in South Side Chicago.

Alexssa Moore, a member of Fearless Leading By The Youth (FLY), spoke with Aamer Madhani of USA Today regarding the necessity for Obama to voice his support for a trauma center in his former South Side community.

The University of Chicago’s medical center on the South Side closed its adult trauma center in 1988 due to rising costs, the New York Times reports.

“We drew the entire South Side,” John Easton, a spokesman for the medical center, told NYT. “That became overwhelming. It put an enormous strain on the hospital.”

U of C’s children trauma center doesn’t admit anyone over the age of 15.

U of C is currently vying to host the Barack Obama presidential library. The university projects the library would generate an annual revenue of $220 million and create nearly 2,000 permanent jobs, according to USA Today.

Moore reportedly hopes the President use the library competition to press the university to restore trauma care at its medical center.

FLY has been on a mission to get a trauma center since 2010, according to the org’s co-founder Darius Lightfoot.

“As of recently since 2010, FLY has started a campaign called the ‘Trauma Center Campaign,’ which is to get a level-one trauma center on the South Side,” Lightfoot told Thomas Morton of Noisey in the “Chiraq” documentary. “Throughout the whole South Side, there is not one level-one trauma center for people of the age 16 and older. So if you’re 16 or older, you have to travel 10 miles just to get treated for a life-threatening injury.”

Candice Turner, a member of FLY, said her 18-year-old brother Damian died on his way to the hospital after being shot Aug. 15, 2010.

“He died on his way to the hospital because he had to be taken so far,” she said.

The nearest hospital with a trauma center for Damian was Northwestern Hospital.

Damian was shot on 61st and Cottage, three blocks away from University of Chicago Medical Center in Hyde Park. UCMC, ranked among the best hospitals in the nation, has a pediatric trauma center that services children 16 and younger.

(Damian Turner)

Candice regarded the city’s failure to place a trauma center in South Side Chicago as a “race issue.”

Sheila Rush, Damian’s mother, has been a vocal advocate for an adult trauma center in South Side Chicago since her son’s death.

“It would have taken about a minute in a vehicle to get Damian to the U. of C. hospital,” Rush told the New York Times. “My sweet baby could still be alive today if the U. of C. had a trauma center. It’s just down the street.”

L’A Capone, 17 at the time of his death, was too old to be taken to UCMC. Capone had to be transported more than 10 miles to Northwestern Hospital to be treated for his injuries.

Capone died after losing too much blood, his mother Dedra Morris told DNAinfo.

“They said he was losing too much blood,” Morris quoted the doctors as saying, according to DNAinfo. They stopped it twice, but the third time he stopped breathing.”

“I guess he got tired of trying to fight,” she added.

Capone, too, was minutes away from UCMC.

(A marks the location of Capone’s shooting, B is the location of Northwestern Hospital, C is University of Chicago Medical Center.)

There are four adult trauma centers in Chicago, including, “Northwestern and Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital on the North Side and Mount Sinai Hospital Medical Center and the John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County on the West Side.

UCMC opened a new $700 million, 1.2-million-sqare-foot, 10-story state-of-the-art facility on Feb. 23, 2013.

Revenues for patient cares at the hospital were more than $1 billion, according to UCMC’s website. The hospital is adequately staffed with more than 9,500 employees, including 700 attending physicians, 900 residents and fellows, and more than 1,500 nurses.

Chicago’s emergency health center system has long been criticized.

The now-closed Ravenswood Hospital was slammed after refusing to admit a dying South Side teen in 1998.

Christopher Sercye, 15, was shot in the abdomen while playing a game of basketball. Friends carried Sercye within 35 feet of the hospital, but personnel refused to bring him in, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Sercye bled to death outside of the hospital.

The hospital’s actions even drew strong criticism from then-president Bill Clinton.

The family of Sercye won a $12.5 million settlement from Ravenswood for Christopher’s death in 2003.

Rush told NYT she would continue fighting for an adult trauma center “so the next Damian will have chance.”

“It’s not just about my son,” Ms. Rush said. “Too many youth are dying when they don’t have to.”

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