Trauma center activists to gather at Obama’s house: “UofC doesn’t recognize that #BlackLivesMatter, shouldn’t host Obama library”

What: Trauma center activists press conference and letter deliver to Obamas’ Kenwood home

Where and when: 12 pm (noon) at E Hyde Park (51st St) and S Greenwood, Thursday Dec. 11th

Who: Trauma center community and student activists including youth organizers, mothers, clergy, college and high school students

Chicago, IL – Tomorrow, December 11th, the deadline for candidates to submit their final proposals to host Barack Obama’s presidential library, trauma center activists from across the South Side will gather at the Obamas’ Kenwood home to deliver a public letter calling on the president and Michelle Obama not to place the library at the University of Chicago until the elite institution commits to bringing trauma care for adults to the South Side.

Veronica Morris-Moore, Woodlawn youth organizer and leader of the trauma center campaign, explained that the decision to reach out to Obama is situated within the growing #BlackLivesMatter movement for racial justice following events in Ferguson, MO and New York City. “This came at a time when we’re really engulfed in this whole moment the country is having around black life and anti-blackness, and what that means and looks like,” she explained.

The letter delivery calling on the Obamas to ask the University to open an adult level one trauma center before they place the library at the institution comes just two days after the University of Chicago Medical Center announced it would raise the age of its pediatric trauma center to 18 years, a long time intermediate demand of trauma center activists. While organizers said they were “thrilled” at the victory, they also emphasized that it did not go nearly far enough.

“This campaign has always been about making sure that everyone on the South Side has access to trauma care,” explained Morris-Moore. In the University’s press release, UCMC President and CEO Sharon O’Keefe claimed that the move “underscores our commitment to continually meet the needs of children in our South Side community.” But, activists say, it is not only children in need of trauma care. “While we wholeheartedly see this as a victory for black people on the South Side of Chicago, especially black youth,” Morris-Moore elaborated, “it still leaves a lot of people out, and shows that the UofC picks and chooses which black lives it thinks matter.”

Activists note that many pediatric trauma centers in Illinois and across the country treat patients well above the age of 18 as well as that gun violence disproportionately affects youth ages 16-24. Given this, trauma center activists are making two concrete demands: first, that the UCMC change raise the age of its trauma center to 24 instead of 18, and second, that UCMC President Sharon O’Keefe and Dean Kenneth Polonsky immediately agree to meet with campaign organizers to discuss bringing full adult trauma care to the South Side.

If the University of Chicago leadership does not respond to these demands, organizers are calling on President Obama to intervene by telling the University he will not place his library at its campus unless it takes further immediate steps to providing trauma care for all South Siders.

The community’s demand for trauma care was sparked by the death of Woodlawn youth leader Damian Turner, and is led by the Woodlawn-based Fearless Leading by the Youth, along with the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, Students for Health Equity at the UofC, National Nurses United and many faith groups including the United Church of Christ. The call for trauma care is also supported by new research by Dr. Marie Crandall of Northwestern Hospital on “Trauma Deserts” which shows that longer travel times to a trauma center increase the likelihood of dying.


Recent stories on the trauma center campaign:

“UofC Wants to Raise Age Limit at Pediatric Trauma Center,” The Chicago Sun-Times

“UofC Aims to Expand Treatment at Children’s Trauma Center,” The Chicago Tribune

“Trauma center protesters target U. of C. capital campaign,” The Chicago Maroon

“Chicago Faith Leaders Sing, Pray For A South Side Trauma Center ,” Progress Illinois

“Religious leaders march for South Side trauma center,” Hyde Park Herald

“South Side Hospital Patients Caught in Trauma Deserts,” (Feature Story), Chicago Tribune

“University of Chicago Alumni: No Donations Until Trauma Center Opened,” Progress Illinois

“Chicago needs help, not Obama Library,” LZ Granderson,

“Activists protest university’s bid for Obama Library,” USA Today

“Why This Hospital Turned a 18-Year Old Away After He Was Shot,” The Huffington Post

Emilio Comay del Junco

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F.L.Y. and The Campaign for a South Side Trauma Center – Revolution And Beer Archive: Feb. 23rd, 2013

On this show, we were joined by Veronica Morris-Moore from Fearless Leading by The Youth (FLY). We discussed the campaign to get a Trauma Center on the south side of Chicago.

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