State approves UChicago Medicine’s expansion plan

The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board on May 10 unanimously approved the University of Chicago Medicine's application to expand access to emergency, adult trauma and specialty care on the South Side.

With this regulatory approval, UChicago Medicine can begin construction of a new and larger emergency department, which will house four trauma bays, and of a dedicated cancer-treatment facility. UChicago Medicine also will seek approval to be a Level 1 adult trauma center from the Chicago Trauma Network and the Illinois Department of Public Health. Plans are underway for the staffing needed under the expansion plan, and UChicago Medicine has launched a national search for a trauma director.

More than 100 supporters including community hospitals, faith leaders, civic organizations and first responders joined UChicago Medicine at a hearing in Normal, Ill., where the state board heard testimony about the $269 million project, called Get CARE.

“The board’s vote today will have a significant impact on our community,” said Sharon O’Keefe, president of the University of Chicago Medical Center. “Our community needs and deserves equal access to quality health care, and we are now one giant step closer to being able to offer that access at UChicago Medicine.”

The new emergency department is expected to open in late 2017 and the adult trauma program several months later, supplementing existing pediatric trauma services and the Burn and Complex Wound Center. The cancer treatment facility will be completed in 2022.

As part of this expansion, 188 inpatient beds will be added, returning 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.

The expansion project is expected to create more than 1,000 permanent positions and 400 construction jobs.