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Rep. Bobby Rush calls for federal funds to create more trauma centers

Updated: July 23, 2013 1:32AM

In an effort to fix what he called a “dire” need for a South Side Level 1 trauma center, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) has introduced a bill to provide $100 million to create more trauma centers.

Rush said he recognizes that $100 million isn’t enough to sustain the many areas that need trauma centers. But he said that it’s a start.

The bill, called the Trauma Act, was introduced in the U.S. House two weeks ago. A vote has not yet been called.

If the bill is passed, the money would be allocated to trauma deserts around the country, including Chicago. Trauma deserts are those that do not have a trauma center within a reasonable distance, such as five miles.

A Level 1 trauma center provides the highest level of surgical care to trauma patients. Lower-level trauma centers and other hospitals may not have the doctors they need to treat more serious injuries, such as car accidents or gunshot wounds.

Chicago has four Level 1 trauma centers: John H. Stroger Jr Hospital of Cook County and Mount Sinai Hospital on the West Side and Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and Northwestern Memorial Hospital on the North Side.

The withdrawal of the now-closed Michael Reese Hospital from Illinois’ trauma network in 1990 — two years after the University of Chicago Medical Center did the same — has left Chicago’s South Side without a Level 1 trauma center for adults south of 15th Street or east of Western.

The recent death of Kevin Ambrose, who was shot blocks away from the U. of C. Medical Center but was taken to Cook County Hospital, renewed outcry over the lack of an adult trauma center on the South Side, the protesters said.

A similar case happened in 2010 when 18-year-old Damian Turner was shot four blocks away in 2011 from U of C Medical Center but was taken to Northwestern.

Rush has said that he thinks his own son would be alive if there had been more trauma centers on the South Side. His son, Huey Rich, lost his life in 1999 partly due to the fact that the nearby hospital — just a few blocks from where Huey Rich was shot — did not have a Level 1 trauma care facility, he said.

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