On August 15, 2010, I lost a friend and ally when Damian Turner was killed by a stray bullet here in Chicago. Although he was shot only several blocks from the University of Chicago Hospital, Damian died on the way to another hospital more than ten miles away.
After Damian’s funeral, members of Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY), a community organization Damian co-founded, informed me that there are no trauma centers for young people over age 15 on the South Side of Chicago. Residents of the largely Black, working class neighborhoods on the city’s South and Southeast Sides are not only caught up in a gun violence epidemic that has made national news, but also face longer ambulance run times than any other residents in the city.
Members of FLY and other organizations have repeatedly called upon the university, which has the most resource rich hospital on the South Side, to use its resources to better care for its neighbors. As a PhD student at the University, I’ve done what I can to support this Trauma Center campaign, working with FLY to combat a sad history of racism and elitism that has led to gaping holes in care that in turn lead to needless and tragic deaths like Damian’s.
Students and faculty at the university have begun talking about the need for a trauma center after campus police broke up a peaceful demonstration at the hospital’s new $700 million Center for Care and Discovery and arrested an alumnus, two community youth and myself on January 27th.
Now that people on campus are talking, we have an opportunity to show the University of Chicago that alumni, physicians, employees, parents, faith leaders, youth, elected officials, community members and donors – as well as students and faculty – are calling on them to turn away from the University’s long history of racial exclusion by working with us to expand access to trauma care.
Please sign our petition asking the University of Chicago Medical Center to raise the age limit of the Children’s Trauma Center from 15 to 21 and open an Adult Level 1 Trauma Center to prevent more needless deaths like Damian’s.