Chicago hospital staff, medical community speak out about shooting victims

Alyssa Rege - Print  | 

After a shooting at Chicago-based Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, hospital staff and medical professionals across the country shared their condolences and emotional messages about the victims.

Four people were killed during a shooting at Mercy Hospital Nov. 19, including the alleged gunman, 32-year-old Juan Lopez. Police said the shooting, which took place around 3:30 p.m., was spurred by a domestic altercation.

Two Mercy Hospital employees — emergency room physician 38-year-old Tamara O'Neal, MD, and 25-year-old Dayna Less, PharmD — were killed in the shooting.

Adele Cobbs, MD, who worked with Dr. O'Neal at Mercy Hospital, told ABC 7 News her colleague's death will change how she interacts with colleagues and how she practices medicine.

"Just being aware that, you know, people aren't always telling us what's going on behind the scenes. And we need to be sensitive and inquire," Dr. Cobbs said. "And especially with black women, you know, people think we are strong and resilient but there are things that are happening behind the scenes that we don't often speak on, and Tamara is a testament to that. And I think we just need to be more supportive and aware."

John Purakal, MD, a professor of emergency medicine at University of Illinois at Chicago, tweeted Nov. 19 he trained with Dr. O'Neal during their time at the UIC and was present at the school's affiliated hospital, where Dr. O'Neal was treated after the shooting.

"I knew her, trained with her, saved lives with her and tonight, tried to save her life. Tonight, I broke down in front of my coworkers when we lost her, and tonight I held hands with her mother in prayer. Tonight, we lost a beautiful, resilient, passionate doc. Keep singing, TO," Dr. Purakal wrote.

Dr. Less earned her pharmacy degree from the West Lafayette, Ind.-based Purdue University College of Pharmacy and began working at the hospital earlier this year. Purdue University College of Pharmacy Dean Eric Barker, PhD, said in a statement obtained by NBC 5 News the shooting represented "an unimaginable tragedy."

"Today, we've remembered Dayna Less as a kind, compassionate, beautiful soul that had dedicated her life to helping others. It's so tragic that a young person with her life in front of her has had her life ended in this senseless manner. The Purdue pharmacy family along with the Purdue community grieve together alongside her family and friends in this most difficult time," he said.

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