A new scholarship has been created in memory of an emergency room doctor who was killed in a Chicago hospital during a shooting that took place in 2018. The scholarship was created by the University of Illinois at Chicago and is called the Tamara O’Neal Scholarship fund after the doctor, Tamara O’Neal.
This scholarship will benefit first-year medical students in the Urban Health Program at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Dr. Tamara O’Neal, a medicine graduate and emergency medicine resident graduate, was killed at Mercy Hospital in November of last year. This incident also took the lives of the gunman, a pharmacy technician, and a police officer.
This scholarship was established by the UIC medicine alumni, according to the University of Illinois Chicago. They have raised more than $68,000 towards the fund. If there is money available, it will go towards providing a scholarship to one fourth-year student enrolled in the medical program at UIC who will also be completing their residency in emergency medicine, similar to Tamara O’Neal.
Dr. Tamara O’Neal, originally from La Porte Indiana, had very humble beginnings. She was the first in her family to earn a medical degree. She was a devoted physician who “loved helping people” said Trina Orlando, reporter of NBC Chicago. She was referred to as “a sweetheart” who “had a heart of gold” by many. Dr. O’Neal was among the four who were killed, including Samuel Jimenez, a Chicago Police Officer, a pharmaceutical assistant and the gunman himself.
Dr. O’Neal contributed to her community and gave back through mentorship programs and service. She was a source of inspiration for other aspiring physicians. After graduating from the Emergency Medicine residency program from the University of Illinois-Chicago, she continued living in Chicago and gave back to the community. She worked with residents at Mercy Hospital in Chicago and advocated for diversity in medicine, along with the advancement of care for patients who were underserved in poor communities.
The incident started in the parking lot of the hospital followed by a verbal altercation between Dr. O’Neal and the shooter, who had been in a domestic relationship with Dr. O’Neal, and was now her ex-fiance. He confronted Dr. O’Neal in the hospital parking lot; she called 911 after seeing that her ex-fiance had a gun. The gunman shot Dr. O’Neal, ran inside of the hospital, and shot two women who were getting out of an elevator. One of these women, Dayna Less, a pharmaceutical assistant, was killed.
At the time of the shooting, Dr. O’Neal was taken to the University of Chicago Hospitals where two of her closest friends were working and waiting for the shooting victims without knowledge that one of them was their friend, Dr. O’Neal.
A long time friend of Dr. O’Neal, Dr. Garth Walker, was one of those working in the emergency room at the University of Chicago. He attended to the gunshot victims from the Mercy Hospital shooting and said “When they showed me the name I just lost it. I couldn’t function any more”.
Another of her friends, Dr. John Purakal, who attended the same residence class as Dr. O’Neal, was also in the emergency room. Purakal said, “I wish I could have done more. I wish we could have prevented it and seen it coming”. He later shared his condolences on twitter saying, “I knew her, trained with her, saved lives with her and tonight, tried to save her life”.
This scholarship serves as an honor for Dr. Tamara O’Neal, who touched the hearts of many throughout her training to become an emergency doctor. Dr. O’Neal was a source of inspiration for thousands of women across the world who are following her path in emergency medicine. She contributed greatly to her community and returned service whenever she had the opportunity. She wanted to make a meaningful impact on the lives of the many women involved in domestic violence or those women at risk for domestic violence.
Domestic violence makes an unfortunate contribution to the U.S. economy, in addition to the staggering humans toll. Millions of dollars annually are lost in wages and sick leave, as a consequence of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is prevalent in Chicago; nearly one-third of women report being physically abused by their husband/boyfriend at any point in their lives. Women are minimally up to eight times more likely to be victims of domestic abuse by an intimate partner.
Over 50 women are killed each month, victims of intimate partner violence, also known as domestic violence. Donations to the Dr. Tamara O’Neal Memorial Research Fund will go towards the study of the intersectional issues of gun violence and domestic violence. The majority of people who are affected by this issue, are of color. Dr. O’Neal’s hard-work and contributions will be honored through this fund by helping others understand the warning signs of domestic violence.
How to make a donation to the Dr. O’Neal Memorial Fund can be found here.