Sheedys make gift to endow directorship of Notre Dame's Hillebrand Center for Compassionate Care in Medicine

Author: Tammi Freehling

Sheedy Family

Bill and Patti Sheedy, to honor Bill’s late father, Dr. John G. Sheedy ’54, have endowed the directorship of the Ruth M. Hillebrand Center for Compassionate Care in Medicine at the University of Notre Dame.

Sheedy Family

Throughout his 40 years of medical practice in Altoona, Penn., Dr. John G. Sheedy was committed to serving his patients in any capacity, but his true passion was providing comfort. His patients embraced him, not just as their physician but also as a confidant, counselor, and friend. The gift from Bill and Patti Sheedy, in honor of Dr. Sheedy, will continue his legacy as a compassionate doctor by educating the next generation of medical professionals in his image. The John G. Sheedy, M.D., Director of the Ruth M. Hillebrand Center for Compassionate Care in Medicine will be further empowered to effect positive change in the medical community.

Bill and Patti Sheedy both received MBA degrees from Notre Dame in 1990. Bill Sheedy is an alumnus of West Virginia University, and Patti (Novak) Sheedy is an alumna of Saint Mary’s College.

Dominic O. Vachon, Ph.D., is the first John G. Sheedy, M.D., Director of the Ruth M. Hillebrand Center for Compassionate Care in Medicine. Vachon graduated from Notre Dame in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and philosophy. In 1985, he completed a master of divinity from Notre Dame, and in 1993, he earned a doctorate in counseling psychology from Loyola University, Chicago. Vachon teaches courses to students and provides national workshops for professionals in compassionate care and burnout, and he facilitates practical experiences for students preparing to enter medical school. Through his research, extensive networking with leading organizations, and consulting in the health care professions, he has developed an approach to training that is sound in theory and practice.

The mission of the Hillebrand Center is to advance the application of the science of compassion at every level of medical education and practice in order to transform clinician well-being and patient care. Of the science behind compassionate caring, Vachon said, “it is not only important for excellent patient care, but also for physician and clinician well-being.  With more than half of physicians experiencing some type of burnout, this gift will enable us to expand our center to support clinician well-being and to be a national resource for how to maintain balance in compassionate caring for the benefit of patients.”

Dominic Vachon, right

“This endowment from the Sheedy Family will be vitally important as the Hillebrand Center moves toward becoming a national center for the improvement of patient care and clinician well-being,” said Mary E. Galvin, the William K. Warren Foundation Dean of the College of Science. Vachon added, “their generosity will enable us to become a national center advocating for the integration of compassionate caring in healthcare.”

A reception to honor the Sheedy family was held in September 2017.

About the Ruth M. Hillebrand Center for Compassionate Care in Medicine at Notre Dame

The Center’s mission is to advance the scientific theory and practice of compassionate care in medicine and promote effective communication skills in physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals. The Center provides courses in the science of compassion in medicine, medical counseling skills, spiritualities of caring in medicine, the Pathos Project, and an introduction to hospice and palliative care. It conducts research and consulting in these areas and collaborates with other local and national organizations with similar goals. Going beyond instructing undergraduates, the Center makes a direct difference in the medical profession by providing continuing education opportunities to practicing physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals. Furthermore, the Center uses scientific research and education to emphasize the importance of compassionate care for all professionals in the health care industry on a national level.