Critical Services at Risk

September 30, 2015

The Budget Impasse Takes Its Toll

By Naomi Shapiro
Guest Blogger


On January 17, my husband and I welcomed a baby boy into our lives. Within minutes of his delivery, he was whisked to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for what we were assured was routine treatment to assist his labored breathing. Shortly thereafter, we learned that it was a cleft palate that was causing his breathing troubles and prevented him from breastfeeding or taking a bottle. Not to worry, we were told, “he’ll be home in a week.” Within a few days, though, it became apparent that our stay in the NICU would be longer than anticipated.

During the course of the first two weeks in the NICU, our room was a flurry of activity – doctors, residents, fellows, audiologists, nurses, social workers, physical therapists, and occupational therapists were all in and out. At one point, we were visited by a geneticist.  The list of possible ailments he presented seemed unlikely and inconsequential in comparison to some of the more acute and immediate medical issues our son was facing. After he left, we forgot that he had ever been there.

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A couple weeks later as we made our morning commute to the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, the NICU resident called to say that a genetic counselor was looking for us.  Although concerned, we did not expect the news that she shared with us: our son’s genetic tests indicated that his cleft palate (and hearing loss that was discovered after we arrived in the NICU) were results of a genetic disorder.  We learned that his particular disorder can cause a vast array of disabilities – some that we could test for immediately and others that would not yet be apparent, including developmental delays.  

In the course of explaining what we could expect, she explained that once home from the hospital, we could enroll our son in Early Intervention, a  program of the Illinois Department of Human Services that offers coordinated therapies at home or daycare. Importantly, many of the treatments that we could receive through Early Intervention would not be covered by our health insurance.  During the following weeks, we came to terms with this unexpected news and grappled with how our lives might look different moving forward.   Read the rest of this entry »

A Raging River of Change

September 18, 2015

By Anna Rubin
JCUA’s AVODAH Organizing Fellow

11337126_10153024498676312_5567238132753381699_oIt has been an auspicious couple of weeks at JCUA, to say the least. On day four of my time here (really in the hours between days three and four), we learned that Sinai Health Systems and the University of Chicago came together and pledged to open a Level-I adult trauma center on the South Side at Holy Cross Hospital within the next two years. After five years of work by many members of the Trauma Center Coalition, and over a year of work by JCUA in partnership with them, it was almost surreal to see a decision like this being made, seemingly out of the blue.

Is this what every week at JCUA is going to be like?

Of course, I know the answer is no. But this victory, so early on in my time here, provided me with an incredible example of what community organizing can accomplish if those involved are truly unflagging and constantly driving past complacency.

It is with this attitude in mind that I approach the coming year. It is ideal that my year with AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps and my year at JCUA began at the same time as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. The convergence of these three beginnings has provided me with ample time for reflection and evaluation of my goals for the coming year as an individual and as a member of the various new communities I now inhabit. 


Become a JCUA Member

As part of AVODAH orientation, my fellow corps members and I were asked to draw representations of our Jewish and social justice journeys as rivers. At the top of my drawing I wrote the following quote from one Pooh Bear (or A.A. Milne): “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday.” I then went on to explain that this was my implicit attitude for many years: why rush, why act now, when indeed, there will be time later, and I can get there eventually. While I do understand the beautiful side of this quote–for indeed, time does flow ever forward and we will often get somewhere eventually, whether it was where we intended to go or not–I reject this quote now. Someday is not good enough. Eventually is not good enough. There must be urgency, there must be action now. Read the rest of this entry »

No More Excuses – Trauma Center Now

June 26, 2015

Jay and Demands

By Jay Stanton
JCUA Member

Earlier this June, I spent one Thursday reminiscing about my time as a student at the University of Chicago and being both pleased and horrified at some of the changes that have been made on campus in recent months. The previous day, nine activists were participating in peaceful civil disobedience, calling on President Robert Zimmer to discuss a list of demands for the University of Chicago to help solve the trauma center desert crisis on the South Side.

Instead of pursuing its ordinary tactics of ignoring protesters until they get tired, or superficially meeting demonstrators’ demands to meet with high-level administrators while not making any changes as a result,  the university enlisted the help of the city fire and police departments to extricate and arrest the activists.  They have been charged with serious misdemeanor charges that have the potential to result in jail time. All non-student activists have been banned from campus. These charges can only be meant to punish and intimidate them and the rest of us into silence about the refusal of the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) to open a trauma center. In order to encourage the free expression of ideas, the University should drop the charges immediately.

1. Sign this petition calling on the University of Chicago to drop charges against the nine trauma center protesters.
2. Join the protesters in court on July 10th. Details and RSVP in the above petition.
3. Write an email to president Zimmer expressing your concern for the University’s actions and the lack of a trauma center.

But here’s the bigger question: why is the U of C singling out trauma center activists? Read the rest of this entry »


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