The University of Chicago Medicine announced on Thursday that the university will be adding a new level 1 trauma center to its Hyde Park campus, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The original plan for the trauma center was announced in September, following years of protest by local community members. The South Side neighborhoods of Chicago have been without a trauma center since 1991 after Humana took over the Michael Reese Hospital in Bronzeville. Since the closure, families who have been impacted by the city’s gun violence have had to face driving as far as 10 miles to receive care.

“Whether you need to use it or not, the mere fact that it exists in your community is a sign that your community is like any other taken seriously in the city of Chicago, and that your people are taken seriously as anyone else, ” Rev. Julian DeShazier told the Chicago Tribune in response to the initial announcement.

“It closes more than the gap between access to trauma are. It also closes this apparent notion that the city doesn’t care about us or that the university doesn’t care about us. It’s a humanizing kind of thing to be able to have what you know folks on the North Side have.”

According to a WBEZ analysis in 2011, patients who lived in Southeast Side neighborhoods, including Hyde Park, had to endure ambulance rides that were 50 percent longer than from other sections of Chicago. The new addition aims to tackle this disparity directly by decreasing the time it takes to transport victims from the scene to the trauma center, which at the moment averages 20 minutes.

Initially, the trauma center was to be developed in partnership with Sinai Health System to convert the Holy Cross Hospital emergency room into a Level 1 trauma center. The new announcement shows a change in course where the project will be handled by the university.

Photo credit: Creative Commons