Press Release

University of Chicago RNs to Lead Candlelight Vigil Wed. Over Lack of South Side ER Services

Media Advisory
March 22, 2011

With a growing crisis over lack of emergency care for South Side Chicago residents, several hundred University of Chicago registered nurses, joined by nurses from other hospitals and community residents, will hold a candlelight vigil in Chicago Wednesday evening to sound the alarm and call for action to protect public safety.  

Patients dying in transport across town because of frequent ER ambulance diversions at UCMC, longer waits for care in UCMC’s Emergency Department, and patients held as long as 48 hours or more before getting a hospital bed are among the shocking conditions facing South Side patients, the RNs charge. 

What: Candlelight Vigil, Community Action, Nurses and Patients
When: Wednesday, March 23, 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Where: UCMC, S. Maryland Ave. at E. 59th St., Chicago

Late last year, it was reported that UCMC already had the highest rate of diversions in Chicago, closing its doors to ambulances on average 22 percent of the time. UCMC also paid a $50,000 fine last year to settle a complaint that it violated federal law after a 78-year old patient died following a wait of nearly four hours without care in the UCMC Emergency Department.

But now conditions are even worse, say the nurses, after the county closed Provident Hospital’s ER to ambulances. Trauma care is rapidly becoming inaccessible to many South Side residents, the nurses warn. 

Aggravating the problem, UCMC RNs charge, is hospital efforts to push away lower income patients to focus instead on recruiting more profitable patients, and serious problems with inadequate staffing at the hospital and the administration’s failure to address RN proposals to improve safe staffing.  

University of Chicago RNs who are represented by National Nurses United, say the hospital should act now to ensure that all patients must have access to safe patient care at UCMC and work with the nurses to guarantee that all South Side residents have access to emergency care in their community when they need it.

NNU is the nation’s largest union and professional association of registered nurses with 160,000 members.