Frequently asked questions about the new UChicago Medicine emergency department

1: What are you building?

We are developing a new and expanded emergency department (ED) that will also offer adult trauma care. The new ED will feature an efficient layout and design, which will cut waiting, admitting and discharge times. It will be connected to the Center for Care and Discovery, allowing for efficient access to lifesaving resources such as operating rooms. The new ED is scheduled to open in early 2018, followed by the trauma center several months later.

In addition to the new ED, we will be turning Mitchell Hospital into a facility dedicated to the care of patients with cancer. The initial conversion of Mitchell will be phased over time, beginning late this year.

2: Why build a new emergency department (ED)?

Our current ED, which was built in 1983, has seen strong demand over the years and cannot meet the future needs of the community without expansion. From 2009 to 2016, the number of adult ED visits has grown from 39,000 to more than 59,000. In addition, as many as 6,000 patients choose to leave our ED each year without being seen because they’ve waited too long for care. The new ED will be 76 percent larger and designed to accommodate more patients and care for them more efficiently.

3: What makes the facility so special?

In addition to having five more treatment stations than the current ED, the new facility will have four trauma bays, dedicated imaging facilities, a rapid assessment unit for patients who need minor medical care, and on-site biocontainment unit to deal with infectious diseases and biological agents. The new ED will feature an efficient layout and design, which will cut waiting, admitting and discharge times. It will be connected to the Center for Care and Discovery, allowing for efficient access to lifesaving resources such as operating rooms.

4: How much will the project cost?

Construction of the ED with adult trauma care is expected to cost $39 million. This project is part of the comprehensive Get CARE plan, which is expected to cost $269 million (which includes financing), representing a major investment in Chicago’s South Side

5: How many new jobs will this facility create?

The Get CARE plan will create 1,000 permanent positions and 400 construction jobs.

6: When does construction begin, and what is the projected timeline of completion?

Construction will begin immediately, and we plan to open the new ED in early 2018 with trauma services coming online a few months after that opening, pending regulatory approvals. (The ED must be operational first before we can begin to offer adult trauma care.) The new Level 1 adult trauma care will supplement existing Level 1 pediatric trauma services and the Burn & Complex Wound Center.

7: Why is it in a parking garage?

The building that houses our new parking garage, at East 57th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue, was designed with a new ED in mind. The building is an ideal location for the new ED because:

  • It is next to the Center for Care and Discovery (CCD), our newest acute care hospital featuring about 25 operating rooms with leading-edge technology. This adjacency means our most critical patients will be much closer to lifesaving resources than they are now.
  • Being along a major arterial route (South Cottage Grove Avenue) means ambulances will have better access to the new ED.

8: Will patient experience change at all?

The new ED will feature an efficient layout and design, which will cut waiting, admitting and discharge times. It will be connected to the Center for Care and Discovery (CCD), allowing for better access to lifesaving resources such as operating rooms. For example, the longest travel time to operating rooms in the CCD will be reduced by 50 percent – from 15 minutes to 7 minutes.

The new ED will have 41 treatment stations, four trauma resuscitation bays, seven rapid assessment units, four psychiatric rooms, one bariatric room, dedicated imagine, and on-site biocontainment. Additionally, patients will experience more privacy, with separate rooms instead of curtained cubicles, and have a dedicated patient entrance and one for EMS/paramedics. Patients and emergency responders share entrances to the current adult ED.

9: What is a Level 1 trauma center?

Licensed trauma centers are facilities specially equipped to provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary medical services to trauma victims. There are stringent requirements that must be met to be a licensed trauma center. Trauma centers are typically classified as Level 1, 2 or 3 based on the resources, equipment and specialists provided, as well as the trauma volume and research and educational commitment. The state requires Level 1 trauma care providers to have critical resources and specialists available 24/7.Our new and expanded ED will offer Level 1 adult trauma care and complement our Level 1 pediatric trauma center and the Burn & Complex Wound Center.

10: How is trauma care different from emergency care?

Trauma care is provided to patients who suffer a traumatic injury. The most common causes of traumatic injury are motor vehicle crashes, gunshot wounds, burns and falls. Designated trauma centers are facilities specially equipped to provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary medical services to trauma victims. Emergency care covers a broader set of services, handling medical conditions that range from a sprained ankle to a stroke.

11: When will the University of Chicago Medical Center announce a trauma director?

We began our search earlier this summer and the response was overwhelming: Trauma directors from around the country see this opportunity at an academic medical center on the South Side of Chicago as one of the best in the field. We plan to announce the new director by the end of 2016.

12: How will the community be included in the development of this project?

Community engagement will continue to be important to us.  We recently put out an open call asking for health care and community leaders to join a newly formed Community Advisory Board that will help inform how we can best support and care those we serve.  We were overwhelmed to receive more than 100 applications from a wide range of candidates.  We are in the process of reviewing the applications and plan to begin work with our newly formed Community Advisory Board this fall.