In 1970, Tom O'Brien and his wife Hope Riley O'Brien lived nearby and watched East Jefferson General Hospital built from the ground up. That started a life-long relationship with his community hospital.
Hope passed away of renal failure on March 1, 2010, after what Tom says was "60 of the most wonderful years" of his life. It was his gratefulness for the compassionate care given to him and his wife by Dr. Chuck Cucchiara, his belief in the mission of The Foundation, and his commitment to his community hospital that inspired him to make a generous donation to The Foundation in memory of Hope. The gift is designated for the building of the new Infusion Center.
Dr. Cucchiara has been their family physician for over 40 years. O'Brien says Cucchiara often went above and beyond the call of duty when caring for his family, especially when his wife was in end stage renal disease.
"Over the years my wife Hope and I received excellent care and treatment by many EJGH physicians," says O'Brien. "Dr. Cucchiara became more than just our doctor, he became our friend."
In addition to being a patient here, Tom has enjoyed years of serving as a volunteer and community activist. He volunteered for Elder Advantage (now known as Healthy Lifestyles) for 8 years and has been active with several AARP chapters that meet at EJGH. These AARP chapters are also generous donors to The Foundation and credit the hospital with giving them a place to gather and feel a sense of community. Mr. O'Brien says, "Most every one of the 450 plus members in the three AARP chapters that meet here refers to East Jefferson General Hospital as "Our Hospital".
Mr. O'Brien is certainly proud to be associated with EJGH. He points to the number of people that volunteer here – over 400 – as a true testament of its services to the community. "You don't get that kind of participation unless you're doing something right," he says.
These days, Tom occasionally passes by The Foundation Donor Wall in the lobby where a tile simply states: "In memory of Hope Riley O'Brien". He has brought his sons by to see it as well. When the Infusion Center celebrates its grand opening in the winter of 2013, Tom and his family will be there, eager to view his wife's memorial on the new donor wall. He takes great pride in knowing that this gift will not only honor her life and her legacy, but will also support what he believes is at heart of East Jefferson General Hospital – providing the highest quality, compassionate care to the patients and community it serves.