Nov 17, 2010
Protestors again rallied at the University of Chicago decrying the lack of a trauma center at any South Side hospitals, this time raising the ire of the police and administrators.
“This is private property, you can’t demonstrate on private property. Could you all please just disperse,” a University of Chicago Police Department lieutenant called out to the roughly 50 protestors from Fearless Leadership by the Youth and Southside Together Organizing for Power as they staged a “die-in.”
In faux bloodied shirts, the group of mostly youth from Woodlawn schools lay prostrate on the university quad Nov. 12 to symbolize victims of violence in the neighborhood unable to be treated at a local hospital.
The South Side is the only area of Chicago to not have a trauma center that can treat victims of gunshot wounds, car accidents, fires and other serious injuries.
“How can you ignore we’ve been shot and on the floor,” the group chanted as police debated with organizers over whether they were out of compliance with a university policy that allows for limited protesting during the noon lunch hour.
Rather than rile the police, the protestors moved to the front of the university’s hospital shadowed by more than a dozen officers.
“They don’t really care — it’s a money issue, it’s a power issue,” said Shelia Rush, whose son, Damian Turner, died in the ambulance on the way to Northwestern Hospital after he was shot less than four blocks from the University of Chicago’s hospital.
“This is the richest hospital. Look around, they have everything — except the one thing they need, they don’t have,” she said, calling on the university to reopen the trauma center it closed in 1988.
This was Rush’s second trip back to the university making the same request, rallying with youth once before in late September. She said she is still waiting for the university to schedule the meeting she was then promised.
“I will try to set up a meeting,” said John Easton, a spokesman for the university, who was waylaid by the group as he was exiting his office. “I don’t have time to answer your questions right now.”
In a prepared statement passed out to press during the rally, the university says that it does still operate a neonatal and pediatric trauma center at the Comer Children’s Hospital and devotes a fifth of its revenue to treating patients with limited or no insurance.
Trauma care “deserves careful consideration and may involve collaboration between public and private partners,” Easton says in the statement.
The piqued emotions of portions of the Woodlawn community have now attracted several 20th Ward aldermanic candidates.
“If our community does not have trauma care, we are losing members of our community,” said Che “Rhymefest” Smith. “I cannot see a ward without proper health care.”
“As alderman, I will march as I have been marching against the university or anyone who stands in the way of trauma care in our community,” said Rev. Andre Smith.
The current alderman, Willie Cochran, has also picked up on the issue, calling for hearings in the City Council on access to trauma care on the South Side.
“Are we talking just about expenses or are we talking about human lives?” he said after City Council Nov. 3. “We want to build a relationship (with hospitals) and help them understand.”
By SAM CHOLKE, Staff Writer, Nov. 17, 2011