Med school scholarship to honor ER doctor slain in Mercy Hospital shooting

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Dr. Tamara O’Neal was shot to death at Mercy Hospital in November. The University of Illinois-Chicago has established a scholarship in her name. O’Neal was a 2014 UIC College of Medicine graduate. | Provided

Former classmates of Dr. Tamara O’Neal, the emergency room doctor killed in the Mercy Hospital shooting in November, have created a scholarship in her name.

The Tamara O’Neal MD Scholarship Fund will support a first-year medical student in the University of Illinois’ Urban Health Program.

“Tamara was always a person who lived to help people, and to be able to pass that on in the form of this scholarship fund to help someone else, then Tamara still lives,” her father, Tom O’Neal, told the Sun-Times Sunday.

“She used to call me up and tell me to say an extra prayer for her when she had a big exam … now I’ll say an extra prayer for the person who gets this scholarship,” he said.

The group of friends has raised $68,000 for the scholarship fund thus far.

If enough money is raised, a second scholarship will be offered to a fourth-year medical student who will complete his or her residency in emergency medicine — the field O’Neal chose.

“Their ultimate goal is to raise enough money so this will be an ongoing scholarship from here on out,” Tom O’Neal said. “I thought that was pretty good.”

Tamara O’Neal was a 2014 UIC College of Medicine graduate and a 2017 emergency medicine resident graduate.

Chisalu Nchekwube, now a family medicine resident at Advocate Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, was one of O’Neal’s closest med school friends.

“Tamara made sure that our group of friends continued to get together even after we all graduated and were all over the country doing our residencies,” Nchekwube said in a statement issued by the school. “Our group became like a family and Tamara was the matriarch, the glue that held us together.”

O’Neal was working as an emergency room physician at Mercy Hospital in Chicago, where she also volunteered her time to teach clinical residents, when she was fatally shot Nov. 19 by her his ex-fiancée.

Also slain in the shooting were Chicago Police Officer Samuel Jimenez, who was responding to the scene, and pharmacy resident Dayna Less, who had just graduated in May 2018 from Purdue University with a doctor of pharmacy degree.

The gunman, Juan Lopez, was wounded by police before he fatally shot himself.

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