U. of C. Medicine is set to launch the first adult trauma center on the South Side in decades next month after gaining approval from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The Level 1 adult trauma center will fill the hole left in trauma care since Michael Reese Hospital closed its center in 1991.

U. of C. stopped offering adult trauma care in 1988, and underserved South Side residents have long advocated for the opening of such a center.

The center will provide specialized care for traumatic injuries, including gunshot wounds, and will also include services such as outpatient psychiatry to help patients transition back into the community.

“We will continue to strive for excellence because the South Side of Chicago deserves nothing less,” said Dr. Selwyn Rogers, the trauma center’s director.

Eighteen new surgeons and specialists were hired for the new trauma center, Rogers said.

Debra Allen, clinical director of trauma service, said U. of C. has been training personnel for the center for over a year. The training includes simulations with “high-fidelity mannequins” to prepare staff for different scenarios.

The trauma center comes as part of a $269 million plan to broaden U. of C.’s services, including the recent $39 million expansion of U. of C. Medicine’s emergency department, which will house the trauma center.

Sharon O’Keefe, president of U. of C. Medical Center, said operating costs of the new trauma center will be over $45 million per year.

Candace Henley, co-chair of the U. of C. Medicine Community Advisory Council, said she and her colleagues are counting down the days before the trauma center’s May 1 launch.

“That moment will be a major milestone and a true victory,” she said.