Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood could soon be getting a new hospital facility.
University of Chicago Medicine has proposed building a $633 million cancer center in hopes of addressing health inequities on the South Side, while also easing some of the medical center’s capacity constraints.
The additional 128 beds will be dedicated to patients with cancer, according to health officials, allowing UChicago Medicine to open other beds for patients with complex or acute care needs in areas such as organ transplants, digestive diseases, cardiology, orthopedics and trauma care.
As it stands, UChicago Medicine says 67% of cancer patients in need of inpatient care have to leave the South Side, while about 56% of patients on the South Side leave the area to get general health care.
Dr. Kunle Odunsi, director of the UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center, says the new center will be one-of-a-kind.
“The need for cancer care within our community is very strong,” Odunsi told WTTW News. “This is because our community … has faced many health inequities in the past. This center is going to provide complex care for South Side residents and beyond who don’t have access ordinarily.”
According to Odunsi, cancer death rates on the South Side are almost twice the national average, and cancer is the second-leading cause of death for area residents.
Pending regulatory approval, construction of the new facility will begin in 2023 and open to patients in 2026. Community letters of support for the new facility are now posted to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board’s website along with the medical center’s application, including a letter from state Sen. Robert Peters and another from St. Bernard Community Hospital.
UChicago Medicine is launching a community engagement effort with a virtual public meeting, which has been set by the review board for Tuesday, Feb. 15, at 10 a.m.