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Protesters call for adult trauma center at U. of C.; four arrested

A sit- new University Chicago  Hospital building demanded life-saving care for youth/ Protesters gathered outside hospital. said thmassive investment

A sit-in at the new University of Chicago Hospital building demanded life-saving care for youth/ Protesters gathered outside the hospital. and said that the massive investment in a new hospital building, despite the lack of trauma care, shows a lack of concern for lives of youth of color. Several arrests were reported. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: March 1, 2013 7:09PM

Protesters called on the University of Chicago medical center to open an adult trauma center Sunday to better meet the health-care needs on the South Side, but some were arrested at the hospital as it prepared to conduct a tour of its new $700 million facility.

To have a new $700 million hospital, but then to say they “don’t have the resources to sustain a trauma center is offensive to the people of this community ,” said Veronica Morris-Moore, a 20-year-old South Side resident and member of Fearless Leading By the Youth, the community organization that organized the protest.

Four people were arrested, and the group, which included about 30 protesters, contended that university police used unnecessary force in what was a peaceful protest.

The group began calling for the trauma center a few years ago after the death of 18-year-old South Side resident Damian Turner, who was shot and killed during random gunfire while he stood outside with others just blocks from the hospital. Turner was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital even though the U. of C. hospital was considerably closer but didn’t have an adult trauma center.

Morris-Moore said she was kicked and pushed in her back at the protest Sunday. Sheila Rush, the mother of Turner, said she also was roughed up by university police.

“I’m very upset about being treated that way by male officers of the law,” Morris-Moore said. “They treated me as if I had a gun in my hand. They took us down to the ground like we were vigilantes. We’re youth. The reason why we’re protesting on a Sunday is because tomorrow we have to go to school.”

Lorna Wong, a spokeswoman for the U. of C., said in an email that several people gained unauthorized entry into the new hospital and were asked to leave. She said the U. of C. had no plans to open a Level 1 adult trauma center. The hospital has not had such a center in more than two decades. It decided not to renew its application for the center and instead to concentrate its resources on “clinical specialties where the hospital can play the greatest role,” she said.

The hospital has a Level 1 trauma center for children. Protesters said, for starters, it could include 16- to 21-year-olds.

Wong said the hospital supports the city of Chicago’s Trauma Care Network, and she noted that no one in Cook County is more than 32 minutes from a Level 1 adult trauma center.

The protesters said they planned to continue their efforts. If someone’s family member was seriously injured, they would expect to be transported to the nearest hospital, Rush said.

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