Community Challenges University of Chicago’s Bid for Obama Library

Residents say ‘no trauma center, no library’

Chicago, IL—(ENEWSPF)—May 6, 2014. Community residents will host a Town Hall Meeting about the University of Chicago’s bid for the Obama Library on Thursday, May 8th at 6pm at the University Church, 5655 S. University Ave. Community organizations from the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Chicago are holding the Town Hall to draw attention to the University of Chicago’s history of racial exclusion, including the lack of a trauma center, and to question whether the University should host the Library.

Victoria Crider, a high school senior, who goes to school just seven blocks from President Obama’s house, says “the University of Chicago has long neglected the needs of black and brown communities on the South Side, including denying access to life saving trauma care, so why should they get the honor and prestige that comes with the Obama Library?”

Ms. Crider notes that “President Obama has tried to stop gun violence and create opportunities for young black men, meanwhile the University of Chicago sits in the center of a gun violence epidemic on the South Side and has shown that it does not value black life, by refusing to open a trauma center and save the lives of the young black men dying at their door.”

South side residents have been protesting the University of Chicago and demanding they open an adult trauma center for nearly four years. Last year the Dean of the University of Chicago Medical Center, Kenneth Polonsky, publicly agreed to collaborate with other hospitals to open a South Side trauma center, However, there has been no follow-up on that promise. Adult level 1 trauma centers are the only facilities certified to treat injuries resulting from severe gunshot wounds or car accidents. The South Side of Chicago, where these injuries are common, does not have an adult trauma center.

The community’s demand for trauma care was sparked by the death of Damian Turner, a youth activist, who was shot in a drive by shooting in 2010 two blocks from the University of Chicago Hospital and driven over 10 miles away to the nearest trauma center where he passed away. The call for trauma care is also supported by new research by Dr. Marie Crandall of Northwestern Hospital on “Trauma Deserts” which shows that longer travel times to a trauma center increase your likelihood of dying.

Confirmed speakers include Dr. Timuel Black, Professor Virginia Parks (School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago) and activists from the trauma care coalition and coalition for community benefits. The Town Hall is being organized by the Trauma Center Coalition, which includes of Fearless Leading by the Youth, Students for Health Equity and the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization.