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A new emergency department opened Friday at University of Chicago Medicine on the South Side.

The $39 million adult emergency department is located at 5656 South Maryland Ave., and replaces a nearby emergency department at Mitchell Hospital that was built in 1983. It is the newest and most advanced emergency room in Chicago, officials said.
The new emergency room opened to patients at 7 a.m. Friday. Ciara Parker was one of the first people inside.

"The process was quick...the old one you'd be there hours," Parker said.

Parker described the new emergency room as faster, cleaner and better.

Promising more efficiency, the new emergency room includes four resuscitation bays to treat stroke and heart patients, private spaces for sexual assault victims and radiology services 24 hours per day so patients don't have to wait in line with other departments - a first.

The University of Chicago said their emergency room is one of the busiest in the city, treating over 57,000 patients per year. The new emergency room can handle many more patients than the old facility.

Doctors said the emergency room took four years of planning. Patients' perspectives played a large role in how the facility was designed.
"We actually had several patients come in and walk the space as we were going through the planning stages to give us feedback about how we can care better for them. A lot of it has to do with increased privacy or more specialized services that are more specific to a need, such as a sexual assault victim," said Dr. Tom Spiegel of the University of Chicago Medical Center.

The new emergency room is part of a $270 million hospital overhaul that includes a cancer center and a long-awaited trauma center, slated to open in May. The Level 1 Trauma Center comes after a big push from community activists who demanded trauma services on the South Side.