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U. of C. Preps for Trauma Center, Announces Plan To Build New ER

By Sam Cholke | February 9, 2016 4:01pm
 University of Chicago Medicine said it will build a new emergency room to prepare for opening a trauma center.
University of Chicago Medicine said it will build a new emergency room to prepare for opening a trauma center.
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DNAInfo/Sam Cholke

HYDE PARK — University of Chicago Medicine is reviving plans to build a new emergency room at the site of a parking garage as part of its preparations for opening a trauma center that could treat patients in the direst of emergencies.

The university on Monday said it was preparing to submit its plans for a new trauma center to the state and has released new details about the changes and other improvements being sought for the medical center.

Those improvements include proposals for a new emergency room, more hospital beds and improvements to the cancer and cardiovascular care units.

In December, the university announced it would move its plans for a new trauma center to campus and scrap and earlier proposal to partner with Mount Sinai at Holy Cross Hospital, and details have been hard to come by until the paperwork for the state are complete.

The university has not yet said what additional construction would need to happen to house the trauma center, which would include a medical team on-call 24-hours a day with operating rooms available to them at a moment’s notice to treat the most severely injured patients, like victims of gunshot wounds or car accidents.

But in the meantime, Lorna Wong, a spokeswoman for the medical center, confirmed that the medical center was reviving plans to build a $36 million new emergency room on the first floor of a parking garage at 5656 S. Maryland Ave.

The university had been debating building a new ER in the building since at least 2013 and even submitted a proposal to the state to build it in late 2014,  before pulling the plan in January of 2015 to do more planning on the hospital’s long-term needs.

One of those needs appears to be more hospital beds.

“UChicago Medicine is reaching a point where every single one of its hospital beds will be full nearly every day of the year,” the university said in a prepared statement on Monday. “For 310 days last year, UChicago Medicine was so full that the hospital was forced to turn some patients away while others had to endure long wait times, ambulances had to be diverted to other hospitals and community health care providers couldn’t transfer patients who needed the highest level of care.”

The university has slowly been adding hospital beds since it opened the Center for Care and Discover in early 2013, most recently adding 43 new beds in 2014.

Wong was not able to say how many new beds the hospital will seek, but the medical center pointed to increased need for beds on the South Side as other centers have scaled back.

Nearby Provident Hospital is the most recent example. The hospital run by Cook County is currently asking the state to allow it to permanently get rid of its 23 obstetrics beds, which had been temporarily out of use for over a year.

The university will also pursue changes to how patients access its cancer and cardiovascular care programs, but Wong was not immediately able to provide details on the proposed changes.

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