St. Michael’s mourns the death of longtime supporter and donor Pat Keenan
Toronto, May 2, 2014
By Leslie Shepherd
Pat and Barbara Keenan
St. Michael’s Hospital was today mourning the loss of Patrick (Pat) J. Keenan, a longtime supporter, board member, benefactor and friend. Keenan, 82, died Thursday night.
“Through his leadership at a difficult time in our history and his tremendous generosity, Pat Keenan has played a decisive and enduring role in shaping St. Michael’s,” said Dr. Robert Howard, the hospital’s president and CEO. “We remember him gratefully and will continue to honour his legacy.”
A chartered accountant by training, Keenan had a successful career in the international mining industry and as CEO of several major multinational companies. He served as director of Brascan Ltd., London Life Insurance Co. and federal government controlled entities including Canada Developing Investment Corp.
He was appointed to the St. Michael’s Hospital Operating Board in 1985 as the Sisters of St. Joseph, who ran the hospital, were having trouble fundraising. He was chair of the board from 1990-1994 and was part of the team that brought in new management and fixed what he calls the hospital’s “near-death experience,” namely, a $64 million deficit. Keenan joined the board of St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation in 1991.
With the hospital back on its financial feet, Keenan and his wife Barbara set their sights on building a world-class health care provider and research institution – while at the same time continuing to care for the city’s most vulnerable populations. They donated $30 million to St. Michael’s over three decades, making them the largest donors in the hospital’s history
Always passionately interested in advancing research, their generosity created the Keenan Research Centre, home to the Keenan Research Centre for Biodmedical Science, the hospital’s basic science research entity. Their financial support also led to the creation of:
- The Keenan Chair in Critical Care and Respirology, which allowed the hospital to recruit Dr. Laurent Brochard, one of the world’s leading experts in mechanical ventilation, from Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland, in 2013. His arrival confirms the hospital’s respiratory diseases, lung injury and mechanical ventilation group as one of the best in the world.
- The Keenan Chair in Surgery, which enabled the hospital to recruit from Chicago Dr. Loch Macdonald, a neurosurgeon who is the world’s leading researcher in a kind of stroke known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
- The Keenan Chair in medicine, the hospital’s first chair and one of the first in Toronto, to be held next by Dr. Arthur S. Slutsky, vice-president of research.
- The Dr. H. Patrick Higgins Memorial Scholarship Fund, named for the hospital’s former physician-in-chief.
- An endowment to find research infrastructure, which was acknowledged with the naming of the Cardinal Carter Wing of the hospital in honour of their close friend Cardinal Gerald Emmett Carter. The cardinal’s father and Pat Keenan’s father were both printers and union leaders in Montreal and the two families lived within a few blocks of each other.
The Keenans have also supported the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation Angel Ball and initiatives in kidney research, the organ retrieval program, heart and nephrology.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that Pat and Barbara Keenan are the Urban Angel’s urban angels,” said Dr. Howard.
In addition to St. Michael’s the Keenans have also supported McGill University, of which they are both alumni, St. Michael’s College and the University of Toronto, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, Covenant House, the Evergreen Centre, the Yonge Street Mission, the Kidney Foundation of Canada, David Suzuki Foundation's Web of Life program, and the Royal Ontario Museum. They were honoured as Outstanding Philanthropists of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2004.
“The Keenans are people who have made a difference to the city of Toronto,” said Alayne Metrick, president of the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation.
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About St. Michael's Hospital
St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.