By Randi Stern
JCUA Member and Guest Blogger
At the end of last year, JCUA members chose to organize around two social justice campaigns. One of the campaigns we chose was organizing for a trauma center at the University of Chicago. Last week, the Trauma Center Coalition reciprocated by formally voting in JCUA as its newest member. It was a moment of pride and excitement for me to be present as community, student and medical organizations invited us to organize with them. The Coalition inducted JCUA because we demonstrated that we can meet their organizing expectations. It’s a major marker in JCUA’s development as a relevant and important player in Chicago’s organizing world.
► Join JCUA members for an Interfaith Vigil for a Trauma Center, Thursday, Feb. 12 from 6:30-7 pm outside the Duchossois Center on the U of C Campus. More info and RSVP.
The goal of the trauma center campaign is to organize for the University of Chicago Medical Center to commit to opening an adult Level I or II trauma center. There is currently a “trauma center desert” on the south side of Chicago. Someone with a gunshot wound or other serious injury on the city’s south side has to travel over five miles to get treatment, greatly diminishing their likelihood of survival. In an area that needs nearby trauma care more than any other part of the city, it is a travesty that none exists.
The trauma center campaign reflects JCUA’s mission: to combat social and economic injustice in partnership with Chicago’s diverse communities. The areas affected most by the trauma center desert are predominately working class communities of color. A diverse coalition organized this campaign, and it is led by community groups who have personally felt the effects of living in a trauma center desert.
‘As a Jew, a JCUA member, and a longtime staff member at the University of Chicago, I am personally disappointed’
I work and spend much of my time in Hyde Park. It is therefore of vital importance to me that JCUA plays a key role in advocating for the human right to healthcare on the south side. As someone personally affected by the horrors of gun violence and a member of JCUA, this campaign in particular resonates with me.
The Mishnah stresses the importance of Tikkun Olam—the Jewish value of collectively working to repair the world. As a Jew, a JCUA member, and a longtime staff member at the University of Chicago, I am personally disappointed and angered that the U. of C. isn’t allocating its resources to “repair the world” and serve the needs of the community. It is important for JCUA to be involved with this campaign because many Jewish community members live and work in Hyde Park where the University of Chicago Hospital resides.
This is a winnable campaign. The Trauma Center Coalition recently succeeded in organizing for the University of Chicago to raise the age of children treated at Comer Children’s Hospital from 15 to 17. And now, there is increased pressure on the University of Chicago to open an adult trauma center. A recent study by the Illinois Department of Public Health determined the University of Chicago Medical Center is only area hospital with the appropriate resources for an adult trauma center.
You can get a heart or lung transplant at UCMC, but in a city where 49% of deaths result from trauma, you can’t save someone from a bullet on the south side. By refusing to open a trauma center, the University of Chicago is making a statement that they do not care about meeting the needs of the surrounding community.
The University of Chicago says they are committed to saving lives—so let’s push them to save more.
Randi is a JCUA member. You can become a JCUA member and get involved by registering here.