Closing the Emergency Care Gap in Our Communities

Members of UChicago Medicine’s Emergency Department team led key initiatives and drove partnerships across the organization to improve the emergency services offered to our surrounding community.

The University of Chicago Medicine took important steps to improve emergency services on the South Side in fiscal 2018 through the opening of a new state-of-the-art Emergency Department followed several months later by a new Level 1 Adult Trauma Center.

The trauma and Emergency Department services fill a care gap in the South Side which had existed for almost 30 years. Nursing teams played key leading roles in many of the essential efforts that helped prepare UChicago Medicine for the opening of the ED in late 2017 and Level I Adult Trauma, which opened in May 2018.

“Our nurses helped to design and implement new initiatives, policies and procedures to ensure that we would be able to deliver the highest level of care from the time our doors opened,” said Deb Allen, BSN, RN, CCRN, clinical director of trauma services. She leads the trauma team in its multidisciplinary approach to adult trauma care.

With the launch of the Level 1 Adult Trauma Center, UChicago Medicine added to its suite of trauma care services, which already included pediatric trauma and burn services. The plan to become a Level 1 Adult Trauma Center was announced in December 2015. UChicago Medicine staff, nurses, physicians and leaders spent thousands of hours developing new policies, procedures, wraparound services and more to support trauma patients and their families.

More than two dozen departments worked together to ensure a successful launch of the Level 1 Adult Trauma Center.

In preparation for opening, multiple brainstorming events took place amongst the nursing staff to help build relationships and foster collaborations among care teams.  Within the Emergency Department, nurses became trauma mentors, undergoing extensive education that included the initial care of a  trauma patient as well as becoming experts in trauma equipment and supplies. Along with the ED, the peri-op and in-patient nursing staff developed workflows and did extensive education.

Nurses led critical initiatives, including the development of the Room After Trauma (RAFT) Policy – a process that ensures streamlined coordination and preparation of the operating rooms and surgical teams when a trauma patient in need of surgery enters the hospital.

For trauma care to be successful there needs to be effective communication and teamwork in the ED between security, surgeons, nurses and staff throughout a patient’s care journey.  The interdisciplinary efforts led by our nursing teams have made trauma care here at UChicago Medicine a reality.

These important developments were not done in a vacuum. UChicago Medicine reached beyond our medical campus to make sure these initiatives would meet the needs of our community. We formed an advisory council of 20 community members that represented a broad cross section of our extended neighborhood to help inform our work and guide us in our efforts to effectively structure violence prevention and recovery programs. This advisory group remains an important partner to this day.

Within months of opening, UChicago Medicine quickly became one of the busiest adult trauma centers in Chicago.