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Sen. Hunter: South Side trauma center a critical victory

trauma ctrCHICAGO – South Side Chicagoans may soon access timely trauma care thanks to joint efforts between community leaders and lawmakers encouraging the medical community to address years of protest.

"This is a big win for the South Side. Years of protest and state hearings have helped this come into fruition," said State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago), who spearheaded a first-of-its-kind state hearing on the lack of trauma centers in poorer neighborhoods.

In 2013, Hunter, then chair and vice-chair of the Senate Human Services and Public Health committees, launched an Illinois Senate inquiry in response to a WBEZ study that found it took ambulances 50 percent longer to transport a patient on the southeast side to a trauma center when compared to other regions of the city.

In such critical instances, these delays can mean the difference between life and death. Medical professionals have testified that when a trauma center is less than five miles away and can be quickly accessed, a victim's chances of survival greatly increase.

“It’s clear that if there was a center on the South or Southwest Side, the differences in transport times could be eliminated,” said Dr. Marie Crandall, trauma surgeon and researcher at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, who testified at the hearing.

After the state's first hearing on the proximity of trauma care and mortality, Hunter met with public health directors to create an Illinois Trauma Center Feasibility Study.

The feasibility study assessed the level of trauma care hospitals currently provide and could potentially offer local residents.

Last week, Holy Cross Hospital and University of Chicago announced a $40 million project to finally build a trauma center on the city's South Side. Holy Cross will host the new facility at 2701 W. 68th St. in Marquette Park, which is in Hunter’s district.

"I'm glad that the cries of the community are finally being heard. This is the first step to reducing trauma deserts. The next step is building a trauma facility on the city's East Side," Hunter said.