Hotline Will Coordinate Complex Abortion Care

Illinois launches CARLA program with RUSH, UIC, other medical centers and Chicago Abortion Fund
Dr. Laura Laursen speaks. Gov. J.B. Pritzker in the background

RUSH is partnering with the state of Illinois and other academic medical centers to launch a service for patients who need complex abortion care.

The program, announced by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday, is a collaboration between the Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois Department of Health and Family Services, the University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago Abortion Fund and RUSH.  

When a patient who is seeking abortion care has other health conditions that warrant advanced medical care, the Complex Abortion Regional Line for Access will help the patient find hospital-based care as quickly as possible. Called CARLA, the state-funded, nurse-staffed hotline will aid patients with complex medical needs in scheduling care at a participating academic medical center, getting pre-operative testing and arranging payment, transportation and child care for treatment. 

"CARLA's patient navigation center is the first of its kind, supporting these patients by helping them with logistical and medical hurdles, and making it easier for them to quickly access the hospital-based care they need," said Laura Laursen, MD, co-director of CARLA and an obstetrician-gynecologist at RUSH, where the program will be based.

“A patient can, with one phone call, talk to a nurse who will navigate her complex care. Through the cooperation of multiple hospitals in Illinois, the CARLA nurse can ensure that patients are connected quickly and compassionately.” 

When a pregnant person with complex medical needs seeks abortion care, any delay can significantly increase health risks and cause undue stress, she added. 

“The CARLA program will improve access and reduce health disparities for some of the most vulnerable patients, and it will return the focus back to the health care that they need by mitigating the obstacles that stand in their way,” Laursen said. 

In an interview with WBEZ Chicago, she said patients are told to contact the few hospitals that provide complex abortion care. “Then the patients call around, and much of it is in the patients’ hands,” Laursen said.

During a news conference at UIC, Pritzker announced the CARLA program along with several other family planning and reproductive health initiatives. The news conference can be viewed on Facebook.   

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