Waukegan hospital loses trauma center designation: 'lives will be lost'

Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan lost its trauma center designation, Lake County officials announced on Sunday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has revoked the trauma center designation following an investigation. The loss of designation is attributed to the hospital's lack of essential services, including a blood bank, anesthesia, neurology, urology, or a full-time trauma coordinator, according to an IDPH spokesperson.

This development means that patients with severe illnesses or specific emergency needs will need to be transported to other hospitals outside the immediate area. Concerns arise about potential delays in reaching distant hospitals, posing risks to patients' lives.

State Senator Adriane Johnson of Buffalo Grove says people with serious injuries will have to be transported to hospitals more than 20 minutes away. 

"The Waukegan community is facing a detrimental downturn in trauma-focused care with the revocation of Vista Medical Center’s trauma center designation. A lack of accessible, reliable, high-quality health care is already the reality for many, and the recent announcement will create even more damage for local residents. Simply put: Without proper intervention, lives will be lost," Sen. Johnson said.

Hospital authorities are expected to implement a corrective action plan, although the timeline for addressing the issues remains unclear. Paramedics will now redirect patients to hospitals in Libertyville or Lake Forest, which are approximately 20 to 30 minutes away from Waukegan.

Johnson says she is working with the IDPH and Vista Medical Center East to "to get to the bottom of the revocation" to ensure residents in Lake County receive the care they need.