Calling Chicago's South Side a "trauma desert," U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) introduced a bill Monday that would allot federal money for creating trauma care centers in underserved urban and rural areas.
“Every member of Congress’ district is affected by too long travel times from the site of a trauma to a hospital that will indeed care for that trauma,” Rush said Monday in front of Jackson Park Hospital on 76th and Stony Island, according to WBEZ.
Rush called the city's South Side the "number one trauma desert" in the country when he introduced the $100 million Trauma Act, which has yet to be called to a House vote, the Sun-Times reports. Though funds would be matched by states, Rush acknowledged the high price tag that comes with Level One trauma care centers.
“We’re not under any illusion that $100 million aimed at this issue is enough money but we’ve got to start somewhere,” Rush said.
The matter is a personal one for Rush, who lost his adult son Huey Rich in 1999 and believes his son's life could have been saved if a trauma care facility had been nearby.
Chicagoan Michael Dye believes the same is true of his friend, Kevin Ambrose.
Dye, 19, found his friend, a Columbia College theater student, shot near the47th Street Green Line Station at South Prairie Avenue in May. Dye traveled to Stroger Hospital with Ambrose's family, telling ABC they beat the ambulance there. University of Chicago's hospital was only blocks away, but does not admit adult trauma patients.
The Chicago area currently has seven trauma centers, with only four in the city limits that serve adults in need of Level One care, only one of them south (by a half-mile) of Roosevelt Road. University of Chicago on the South Side only admits pediatric patients, a matter that's drawn sharp criticism in recent months.
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A Northwestern University surgeon studied travel times for gunshot victims and found many areas -- primarily on the South and Far South Side -- where the travel time is more than 30 minutes, ABC Chicago reports.
Studies have shown gunshot patients more than five miles from a Level One trauma hospital have a higher mortality rate than victims with shorter travel times, the Associated Press reports.