Protestors rally against U of C women's clinic closure

  • By Alex Parker
  • Staff Writer
  • May 29, 2009 @ 3:00 PM

A coalition of South Side advocacy groups called on the University of Chicago today to halt the closure of a popular women's clinic.

They also accused the university of skimping on care for blacks, the poor and the elderly.

The university plans to close the Women's Health Center, 1301 E. 47th St., in late June or early July, citing economic woes.

But patients aren't buying that claim, and say the clinic's closure is another example of the university's hospital system neglecting the community.

"We believe that this is part of the plan for transformation for the city, it's part of the gentrification," said Deborah Taylor, a patient at the clinic. "The only people being impacted are...the students here at the university, the workers at the university, the elderly the blacks, the poor. There's no reason for them to shut down this clinic or any other clinic in the community."

About 20 people protested in front of the clinic, holding signs and chanting slogans. They marched from the clinic to the university administration building, 11 blocks away.

Jay Berger, who spoke on behalf of Teamsters Local 743, which represents clinic workers, said the clinic is "vital" to the community.

Closing it, he said, will make it harer for the "hospital system to provide quality patient care, and we believe that the closing of this clinic erodes that and cuts it down."

Shannon Bennett, of the Kenwood-Oakwood Community Organization, called the closure another notch in a "sinister" plan by the university to play to land developers.

"As we get pushed out, the services we need are cut," he said. "The assumption is that we are not going to be here. It's a class thing and a race thing."

The university denies it is purposely pushing patients away, and says it is focusing on providing medical homes to people as a way to unclog its busy emergency room.

Spokesman John Easton says patients at the Women's Clinic will continue to get treatment from university doctors at the university medical center and the Center for Advanced Medicine.

Daily News Staff Writer Alex Parker covers public health. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 17, or alex [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.