[This piece was originally published in the Chicago Weekly]
As the issue of national health care becomes the focus of an increasingly heated debate in the national political arena, the issue is equally Important here on the South Side, with the University of Chicago’s Medical Center Generating a lot of talk in recent weeks. First, the UCMC announced its plans to lay off 450 employees and to cut up to an additional 500 jobs through attrition. Then criticisms began to surface regarding its treatment of Medicaid, Medicare, and uninsured patients. While restructuring plans within the emergency room are in the works, in-patient capacity is being reduced through the elimination of more than thirty beds.
All of this is related to the UCMC’s transition to become Chicago BioMedicine. The transition will bring organizational change, but, most importantly, Chicago BioMedicine represents a total reconfiguration of priorities, with a growing emphasis placed on lucrative, high-tech specialty medicine and less attention on primary care service and general medicine. The University’s stance is that the restructuring will allow the hospitals to focus their energies on the areas of “specialized care,” in which they excel, allowing others to focus on the less glamorous side of medicine.
Sarah Farr is PhD student in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The views expressed in this blog and on this website are my own.