Fighting for a South Side trauma center

I AM a part of a youth group named Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY). FLY is the youth leadership arm of Southside Together Organizing for Power, and one of our main campaigns is an effort to bring the University of Chicago Medical Center’s (UCMC) trauma unit back into the Woodlawn community after 23 years of its doors being closed.

We started our trauma center campaign because one of the founders of FLY, Damian Glenn Turner, was shot at 61st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. That's a couple blocks away from the University of Chicago--but he was taken miles away, all the way downtown to Northwestern Hospital, where he later died.

There are currently no Level 1 trauma centers on Chicago's South Side, which is why we are strongly fighting for a return of a trauma unit at the UCMC.

Why should you have to travel miles downtown when there's a hospital that's known as one of the best in the city right down the street from you? It doesn't make any sense.

FLY has been doing lots of research and outreach for the campaign: We've presented our findings to the university and taken direct action in the form of protests, die-ins and teach-ins in the community. We also had scheduled a direct meeting with Sharon O'Keefe, the president of the UCMC, but the day before the meeting she cancelled on us!

At a rescheduled meeting with the UCMC vice president and other officials, we told them our story and gave them our research. They asked us, "Why not just go to Jackson Park Hospital or some other hospital--because we're not opening up a trauma center."

I found that to be messed up, because the UCMC is currently building an approximately $700 million research building--when a trauma unit would only cost approximately $1.5 million.

Although it seems hard, we are continuing to fight and protest, and we will not stop until we get a Level 1 trauma center! For information or to get involved, you can visit our website, Southside Together Organizing for Power.
Kyerra Moran, Chicago