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Protesters who pitched tents in front of the University of Chicago Medical Center over the weekend plan to stick around Monday, hoping they can convince hospital administrators to add a trauma center to the South Side hospital--and to remember a friend they lost to gun violence last year.
The protest comes one year after community activist Damian Turner was shot in a drive-by near 61st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, CBS 2 Chicago reports. Turner, who was not the intended target, was taken by ambulance to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he died from his injuries. Friends say he would be alive today if U of C treated gunshot victims, since the hospital is just blocks from where Turner was gunned down.
“I am here to pay my respect to my best friend, Damian. If he could have gotten treated for his wounds faster, it's a better chance he would have survived,” Darrius Lightfoot, 19, told the Chicago Tribune Sunday.
Level 1 trauma centers are staffed with specialists capable of treating gunshot and stab victims as well as other traumatic injuries--but are often very costly, and U of C shut down their trauma center in 1988. Michael Reese Hospital closed after that, leaving South Siders with fewer trauma care options, according to the Tribune.
“Trauma care is part of a much larger issue of unmet health care needs, shrinking resources and the necessity for a coordinated regional response on the South Side," U of C officials said in a statement, according to CBS Chicago. “Although the medical center continues to serve as a pediatric trauma center, it does not currently have the resources to handle both pediatric and adult trauma centers.”
Hospital officials also say adding a trauma center would force them to cut other essential programs.
WATCH CBS Chicago's coverage of the protest here: