UChicago Medicine adds hospital expansion to plans for trauma center

The University of Chicago Medicine is tying its proposed Level 1 adult trauma center and expanded emergency department to a proposal for 188 additional inpatient beds.

The three projects, and a project to transition its Mitchell Hospital into a dedicated cancer center, were rolled up into one under its $269 million "Get CARE" plan, which was submitted for state approval this week.

The move to add the hospital expansion to the equation comes as a surprise, though it is much needed at the University of Chicago Medical Center, according to President Sharon O'Keefe. "For 310 days last year, our hospital was so full that we were forced to turn some patients away; while others endured longer-than-acceptable wait times. We must address these capacity constraints to provide the care our community and patients need," she said in a statement.

The combined proposals also help explain why UChicago Medicine in December suddenly pivoted away from plans to partner with Chicago-based Sinai Health System to open a Level 1 adult trauma center. At the time of that decision, Ms. O'Keefe said the system realized it made more sense to integrate the trauma center and expanded emergency room at one place.

Once the "Get CARE" plan is approved, UChicago Medicine said it will seek Level 1 designation for the trauma center. Residents of Chicago's South and Southwest side communities have protested for years to have access to Level 1 trauma center, as roughly half of trauma cases originate on the South Side.


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