With a month on the job under his belt, Selwyn Rogers, MD, MPH, the widely respected surgeon selected as the new director of the University of Chicago Medicine’s trauma center, has his hands full to create a positive impact on the health of the community.

Early next year, the South Side’s only Level 1 adult trauma center is scheduled to open. Rogers is already recruiting six “world-class” trauma faculty members to build the trauma team along with family advocates and violence interrupters, among others. Along with treating the urgent needs of patients when they arrive at the hospital, he also plans to address the risk factors that lead to violence.

“We have to move beyond seeing them as victims or perpetrators, but as people,” Rogers said, adding that he plans to go on a listening tour to capture the community’s concerns as he establishes the trauma center. He lives in the nearby Kenwood neighborhood, a thoughtful move to better understand the deeper complex issues of the community he is serving.

There is a strong sense of urgency to establish the trauma center, Rogers said. It will be part of the current emergency department system, and it will supplement the existing Level 1 pediatric trauma program and the Burn and Complex Wound Center. These programs will come together under the newly established Section of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.

The trauma center cannot be viewed as a magical solution, but as an
opportunity to add intensity and incorporate an integrated approach
to solving problems. The violence that the community is facing is
systemic and requires all hands on deck. No one can sit out.”
– Selwyn Rogers, Jr., MD, MPH, founding UCM trauma director

Soon after his arrival on January 5, about 80 members of the community, the University of Chicago Medicine and University of Chicago staff welcomed the founding director of the Medical Center’s new trauma center during a reception at the Gary Comer Youth Center about a mile south of campus. It was co-hosted by UChicago Medicine and its Community Advisory Council.

“He has an understanding of the dynamics involved in trauma care and outreach to the community so that we have prevention and better outcomes,” Rev. Dr. Richard Tolliver said of Dr. Rogers. Tolliver is rector of St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church on the South Side.

Rogers also has been appointed executive vice president for community health engagement for the University of Chicago. In this capacity he will oversee the Urban Health Initiative, which is the primary civic and community engagement arm of UChicago Medicine. Rogers and his team will help to foster programs for and leverage resources of the Medical Center and University to improve the health and well-being of neighboring communities.