Honoring the legacy of Brooklyn medical hero, Dr. Patricia O’Neill

The sign outside of the emergency room at Brookdale Hospital in Brownsville, Brooklyn says "thanks" to their heroes, and on March 8, Brookdale's family and friends gathered to say goodbye to one they just lost.

On Feb. 18, Dr. Patricia O'Neill and her husband, Dr. Peter Smith, were both killed in a car accident on Long Island, about two weeks after FOX 5 interviewed O’Neill for a special report on how hospitals in New York City are dealing with an uptick in gun violence.

Brookdale, a trauma center located in the heart of eastern Brooklyn is surrounded by Brownsville, East Flatbush and East New York neighborhoods – areas often impacted by too many guns on city streets.

As the director of trauma and surgical ICU, Dr. O'Neill led a team that saw firsthand the effect gun violence has on those communities.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, she prioritized the mental wellness of her fellow front-line healthcare workers by insisting that each shift start with a group prayer.

At her memorial, friends and colleagues spoke about O’Neill’s dedication to the people of Brooklyn and New York.  

Many of those reflections were given through tears, including some of my very own when Brookdale administrators let me share how she touched me and photojournalist Andre Greller in just two short hours.