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Black Residents Have to Travel Farther for Trauma Care in Chicago

The opening of a new trauma center at the University of Chicago Hospital means many South Siders are closer to care, but there’s still a wide disparity between the distance white and black Chicagoans must travel for emergency care.
March 14, 2019, 12pm PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Less than a year ago, Chicago opened its South Side Level 1 trauma center at the University of Chicago. "Before the trauma center opened — after years of campaigning by activists — Chicagoans in mostly black neighborhoods were 8.5 times more likely than people in mostly white neighborhoods to live in “trauma deserts,” according to the study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open on Friday," Lisa Schencker writes for the Chicago Tribune. Still, the addition hasn’t solved the inequities in trauma care. Today black Chicagoans are 1.6 times more likely than white Chicagoans to live in "trauma deserts."

"Until the new center opened, the South Side hadn’t had a Level I adult trauma center since Michael Reese Hospital in Bronzeville closed its center in the early 1990s," Schencker reports. This long-enduring issue is not unique to Chicago, in Los Angeles, for example, black residents are five times more likely than white residents to live in trauma deserts. Some claim this problem is a structural one that is bound up with the way health care is funded, a structure that leaves poor and often black residents at a disadvantage.

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