The University of Chicago Medicine is seeking state approval for a bold project that will address the lack of access to emergency and adult trauma services and complex care on the South Side.
Under its “Get CARE” plan, which was submitted this week to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board for approval, the University of Chicago Medicine is seeking to:
- Relocate and expand its adult emergency department in close proximity to its newest hospital, the Center for Care and Discovery, which will reduce wait times and serve more patients.
- Establish a Level 1 adult trauma center on its Hyde Park medical campus, which will join the medical center’s existing pediatric trauma service and Burn & Complex Wound Center.
- Redevelop Mitchell Hospital into a facility dedicated to cancer, which disproportionately affects people on the South Side. This will allow relocation of patients with cancer to a dedicated hospital, opening up the CCD to other critical patients undergoing surgery and other life-saving procedures.
The Get CARE plan is expected to cost $269 million and create more than 1,000 permanent positions and 400 construction jobs.
“Get CARE is a plan to reduce the disparities that exist in access to critical care on the South Side and address the severe capacity constraints our medical center faces,” said Sharon O’Keefe, president of the University of Chicago Medical Center. “For 310 days last year, our hospital was so full that we were forced to turn some patients away, while others endured longer-than-acceptable wait times. We must address these capacity constraints to provide the care our community and patients need.”
To support these expansions in emergency, trauma and complex-care services, UChicago Medicine is proposing to restore 188 inpatient beds, which will return UChicago Medicine to roughly its size in the late 1970s. This bed request will help address capacity issues that have been limiting patients’ access to care and straining the network of providers, as ambulances are diverted elsewhere and community hospitals are unable to transfer patients in need of complex care to UChicago Medicine. Indeed, UChicago Medicine maintains one of the highest occupancy rates in the state, at 90 percent.
Get CARE is an integrated plan that involves creating teams of specialized surgeons and other health care professionals to cover trauma care and support the expansion of emergency and specialty services—an important model for ensuring the long-term sustainability of the medical center.
The elements of the proposal must first be approved by state regulators. The initial step in the regulatory process is filing a certificate of need with the state review board.