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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

St. Elizabeth Doctor, Wife Make Half Million Dollar Donation to Help Build Cancer Center

Dr. Lawrence Brennan, who practices with St. Elizabeth Healthcare, and his wife, Karen Enzweiler, have donated $500,000 to help build the largest comprehensive cancer center in Greater Cincinnati.

They are longtime Fort Thomas residents.

Construction of the center on the Edgewood campus of St. Elizabeth’s flagship hospital, which began in August and is to be completed by summer 2020, will cost a total of $140 million.

Dr. Lawrence Brennan

It will encompass 233,000 square feet and accommodate 650 workers, including hundreds of new positions.

The two made the donation to demonstrate their commitment to cancer care and Northern Kentucky.

An oncologist for 39 years, Brennan practices at St. Elizabeth Cancer Care Medical Oncology. They have lived in Fort Thomas for 35 years, where they raised five children.

“This will be part of our legacy,” said Enzweiler, who noted that the couple decided against making the gift anonymously because they want to inspire others to donate.

The St. Elizabeth Foundation launched a capital campaign to raise $30 million to support the project. More than $20 million has been raised, including $1.5 million from St. Elizabeth employees before the gift from Brennan and his wife.

“We need people to know we think enough of this medical center, this cancer center, to step forward with this gift,” Brennan said. “We need people to know how important this is.”

Brennan and Enzweiler specified that their gift support the Palliative Care Center that will be located within the St. Elizabeth Cancer Center.

The Palliative Care Center will bear their names. Brennan was one of the founders of St. Elizabeth Hospice and served as its medical director for a number of years while maintaining a full-time practice in oncology.

“This is not just a chunk of money,” Brennan said of the couple’s gift. “This is a philosophical donation. It’s about what’s going inside the cancer center to help ensure there will always be palliative care. … There is a huge unmet need for palliative care."

Often called comfort care, palliative care can involve a team that works with the patient and family to provide medical, social, practical and emotional support to those facing a serious or life-threatening diagnosis. That involves treatment to make a patient more comfortable, conversations with family members and practical matters such as living wills.

“It can help them live longer and better,” Brennan said of patients.

Enzweiler said palliative care also takes some of the stress off of a patient's family.

Palliative care is personal for the the couple. Brennan’s sister, Molly, died near her 50th birthday a few years ago after prolonged suffering.

“This generous gift from one of the region’s most respected oncologists speaks volumes about the quality of care we will be providing at our new cancer center,” said Dr. Doug Flora, executive medical director of oncology services for St. Elizabeth. “We plan to treat you like we would our own family members, and ... your quality of life is something we take just as seriously as we do fighting your cancer."

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