NEW BEDFORD — Virtual reality technology is coming to Southcoast Health, courtesy of a gift from the Thomas H. and Catherine D. O’Neil Charitable Foundation. The technology will be utilized to help mitigate patient pain and anxiety both leading up to and during medical procedures.
The donation was presented by the grandchildren of Thomas and Catherine O’Neil at St. Luke’s Hospital on the 76th anniversary of Boston’s Cocoanut Grove Fire. Thomas and Catherine were among the 492 individuals killed on Nov. 28, 1942, in the historic blaze, according to a news release.
To honor their memory, in 2012, grandson Chris O’Neil created the Foundation as a way to honor the victims of the fire while also helping those suffering from painful injuries, particularly burn victims and pediatric patients.
“I wanted to bring some good where a lot of pain had once been, that the lives lost were not in vain. We can make an impact with the O’Neil Foundation,” he said in a statement.
The virtual reality system will be the first such technology utilized by Southcoast Health. The system will be used to manage patient pain, first at the Southcoast Health Wound Center at St. Luke’s Hospital, with plans to incorporate its use into other service areas at Southcoast moving forward, according to the release.
“The opportunity for our Foundation to provide this technology to Southcoast has brought a lot of excitement versus a simple cash donation,” said O'Neil in a statement. “We get a chance to be part of a new way of helping people.”
“We are incredibly grateful to the Thomas H. and Catherine D. O’Neil Charitable Foundation for this generous and innovative donation of technology, which benefits our patients who are suffering from painful injuries and illnesses,” said Keith A. Hovan, President & CEO of Southcoast Health, in a statement. “As a not-for-profit healthcare system, we rely on the generosity of so many within our community to help provide our patients with the best care and attention possible. Virtual reality pain mitigation will be a great tool for our providers and physicians to offer to our patients.”
O'Neil, a New Bedford native, is excited to be helping patients in his own backyard: “Southcoast Health is always investing in cutting edge health technology and has been so supportive to our family over the years; it was time for us to help contribute in some way.”
The O’Neil Foundation gift was made in memory of Dr. Charles Eades, one of the Foundation’s most generous supporters, according to the release.