Statement on Holy Cross Trauma Center from the Trauma Care Coalition:

The Trauma Center at Holy Cross is a victory for the south side and it’s happening because of young black people and allies. The trauma center at Holy Cross represents a victory for the south side and is the direct result of the efforts of black young people and their allies who have been fighting for the last five years. This new trauma center will save lives in neighborhoods on the south and southwest side affected by gun violence and other traumas.

It’s still not enough, U of C hasn’t done enough to show that black lives matter.

There are still large swaths of the south side that will not be adequately served by the new trauma center. South Shore, East Woodlawn, Kenwood, and other South Side neighborhoods with higher gun violence rates are still more than five miles away from an adult trauma center.

The decision to not place the trauma center on campus says to the immediate surrounding neighborhoods that we are not welcomed. This campaign was started after the death of Damian Turner, a young black organizer who was shot 3 blocks away from UCMC. For five years, his peers, family, community, and allies have carried his spirit throughout this campaign. In those five years, countless lives have been lost to gun trauma. The University of Chicago has avoided engaging in a process with the surrounding community, and excluding the voices of the directly impacted.

After five years the University has still yet to engage in a process that values the young black voices that resiliently pressured them to making this decision. This decision says to those young people that the University of Chicago is willing to spend $40 million to keep black victims of gun trauma off of their sacred lands. The fact that nine people who risked their freedom and safety to continue push the university on this issue are still banned from all University of Chicago property is another example of the University’s prejudice and disengagement toward the community. Providing access to care does not erase the institutionally racist nature of the University’s handling of the community, young black people, and the gun violence that is killing people steps aways from their hospital.

The U of C cannot renege on raising the age limit, in fact they should raise it further to 21. Under the proposed arrangement, the Comer Pediatric hospital would cease pursuit of raising the age limit of their trauma center to 18. The University of Chicago should not renege on their commitment to raise the age limit because this will provide equitable access to care for young south side residents whose lives matter just as much as someone on the north side. In fact the University of Chicago should further raise the age limit of their pediatric trauma center to 21.

U of C met with us in August and committed to provide community input into the planning process and we look forward to them following through on their commitment to have community input. After our sit in in June, Dr. Kenneth Polonsky from the University of Chicago agreed to meet with leaders of our coalition. We met twice with him in August and he committed to meet with us again on September 21. At our second meeting Dr. Polonsky agreed to participate in a regional meeting with community stakeholders on the issue to discuss a regional solution to the lack of trauma care. We fully expect and look forward to the continuation of these meetings.

We celebrate this step for a more equitable distribution of resources in our city, while we acknowledge that it is not enough. We will continue to fight for healthcare justice on the South Side.

This statement was made by the Trauma Care Coalition. The Trauma Care Coalition represents South Side community organizations and allied groups. Coalition members include: