Brad Croall In Need Of Kidney Donor

Former Ward 2 Councillor Brad Croall – pictured here with sons Patrick (age 6), Bryan (age 4) and daughter Caroline (born August 2021) – is in need of a kidney transplant. Members of the community can see if they would be a match for Brad by emailing quincykidney@gmail.com. Photo courtesy Lori Croall.

By SCOTT JACKSON

Lori Croall said her husband, Brad Croall, a former city councillor, has always lived a healthy and active lifestyle, and it came as a complete surprise when he was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease last spring.

Brad Croall, now age 42, represented Ward 2 on the City Council for a decade before stepping down last January. Lori Croall said her husband began experiencing mild symptoms of what was later diagnosed as chronic kidney disease shortly after he left the council. The diagnosis was made after Lori Croall took her husband to the emergency room on Easter Sunday of last year.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” Lori Croall said of that visit to the emergency room, adding that her husband’s diagnosis “was completely, completely out of the blue.”

Brad Croall was diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney failure while at the hospital, Lori Croall said. The diagnosis is linked to an underlying genetic condition that is specific to the kidneys, she stated; her husband remains otherwise healthy.

Brad Croall, an only child, was placed on the national kidney transplant list after his diagnosis, Lori Croall said, with the goal of finding a donor before he would be required to start dialysis.

Lori Croall said Brad’s condition remained steady over the summer while she was pregnant with their third child but began to decline after their daughter was born in August, increasing the odds he would have to undergo dialysis.

“The goal was to find a donor before dialysis was needed, but his numbers started dropping,” she said.

Despite his diagnosis, Lori Croall said Brad has been to keep up with his day-to-day activities, with a modified diet.

“He’s doing good and bad,” she said. “His function is Stage 5, which is the end stage of kidney disease. Mentally and physically, he can do his day-to-day activities, like working and going to the gym occasionally.”

Faced with the prospect of dialysis, the Croall family has established an email account that members of the community can use to see if they would be a match for Brad and to ask questions about the process. The email account, which Lori manages, is quincykidney@gmail.com. Lori said her and Brad’s insurance would cover costs associated with the donation.

Lori Croall said she has signed up to be a kidney donor, though she and her husband have different blood types; she has type B blood and he has type O blood.

Lori Croall said she signed up to be a donor in case there is a couple out there with the same blood types also in need of a kidney donation. Using what’s known as a donor swap, Lori would donate her kidney to a recipient with type B blood while Brad would receive a kidney from a person with type O blood.

A kidney donor can live a perfectly normal life after making a donation, Lori Croall said.

“If nothing else, it’s great to educate people about the process,” she said. “We’re all born with one kidney to use and one to spare. You can change someone’s life and save someone’s life by donating – not just Brad, anybody.”

Local Group Aims To Open New Hospital In Quincy

By SCOTT JACKSON

A local group led by the former chief of surgery at the now-closed Quincy Medical Center hopes to open a new acute-care hospital within the city.

Steward Health Care, a for-profit company, closed most of the hospital on Whitwell Street in 2014. The company kept the emergency room on site open as a satellite facility of Carney Hospital through late 2020.  The closure made Quincy the largest city in Massachusetts without a hospital.

Dr. Tony Dragone, who recently turned 80, spent decades working at the hospital as surgeon, including as its chief of surgery from 1991 to 2000. In a recent interview, Dragone recalled being there Quincy Medical Center closed in 2014 and saying to himself, “this can’t be forever.”

In the interview, Dragone said he is now the head of a 14-person commission, dubbed the New Quincy Medical Center Commission, that has set out to construct a new hospital in Quincy. Dragone said he is undertaking the endeavor as a way to give back.

“I’m not looking to have a legacy here. I’m just looking to give something back that the hospital gave to me,” he said. “They gave me a life of fullness, happiness, prosperity and I am very gifted to have that in my life, really.”

The former hospital was a like family for the employees who worked there, he explained.

“I love the hospital. Quincy Medical Center itself is a unique place – it was a unique place. It is the alter ego, the other family, for many, many people who worked there,” Dragone said.

“It was like living with your friends and your mother and your father…We would just all sit down and talk. We were all friends…A friendship developed over the years, and I liked that. I liked that a lot.”

The group has had discussions with various stakeholders about opening a new hospital, Dragone said, including the state’s Department of Public Health. Before completing a determination of need analysis, an initial step in the permitting process, Dragone said the DPH asked the group to find a potential site where the hospital would be built.

“We’ve spoken to the Department of Public Health and discussed a determination of need. They have said to us, ‘Doctors, get the land and then come back and we will work out everything together,” he said.

“The DPH has been very comfortable with us. They’ve been very polite. We’ve had Zoom meetings with them,” Dragone added. “They said listen, we can’t do anything with the DON right now. You need l-a-n-d – land – purchased. Where’s it going to go?”

The group also has been promised up to $150 million to finance the project, Dragone added.

“We’ve got financing promised to us. The biggest issue right now, I will repeat, is the l-a-n-d,” he said. “That’s what is holding us back right now.”

The commission sought assistance from the public last month, asking residents for help finding a five-acre site in Quincy where a hospital could be built.

Dragone said the commission has identified two potential sites – one near Crown Colony and the other near Marina Bay – that fit the criteria. The Fore River Shipyard has also been suggested as a possible location. The commission plans to meet in the near future to begin reviewing those possibilities, Dragone said.

While the location of the potential new hospital is yet to be determined, Dragone already can already picture what it would look like.

“I have the building already in mind. I know exactly what I want. It’s going to be an ER, pediatrics to geriatrics,” he said, adding that the hospital would also have a maternity ward, like Quincy Medical Center once did.

“I want full-fledged acute-care hospital. I want an outpatient department also that can do many outpatient surgeries as they are today. I want an acute-care hospital, five or six floors. I’m looking for a 125-bed buildout.”

Dragone added that he would like to dedicate the lobby of the new hospital to his late wife, Carla.

The construction of the new building could take approximately a year and a half, he said, based on conversation he has had with people familiar with such projects.

The new hospital, a non-profit, would be overseen by a board of managers comprised of members of the Quincy community and Dr. Roberto Feliz would serve as the hospital’s CEO, Dragone said.

“There would be a director of the hospital – a CEO. This young man wants to be the CEO. He’s had a lot of experience with it. He’s board-certified in anesthesia, pain control, et cetera, and he has a business degree also,” Dragone said of Feliz.

“I have said to him, Roberto, I want you to be CEO. I have told him I would be there, I want a little small office. I will not get paid anything. I do want to teach. That’s what I want to do.

“I’m not getting paid. I don’t need it – I’ve gotten enough money over the years.”

Generals Bridge Open, Honoree First To Travel New Quincy Center Span

Retired Air Force Brigadier General Ronald Rand cuts the ribbon marking the opening of the new Generals Bridge in Quincy Center Thursday afternoon. With him are Mayor Thomas Koch (left) and Gov. Charlie Baker. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth

By SCOTT JACKSON

The new Generals Bridge in Quincy Center, which connects Burgin Parkway to General Dunford Drive and leads to the city-owned parking garage, opened to traffic on Thursday after a ribbon cutting ceremony with Gov. Charlie Baker, Mayor Thomas Koch and one of the generals honored by the new Quincy Center span.

The ribbon cutting was held around 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. Cutting the ribbon was Retired Air Force Brigadier General Ronald Rand as Koch and Baker looked on. Gen. Rand was then given the ceremonial honor of being the first to travel over the bridge that now connects Burgin Parkway and the city-owned parking garage via General Dunford Drive, formerly known as Cliveden Street.

The general sat in the passenger seat of a red Subaru Outback as his brother Al Rand drove the vehicle and their sister Dot Rand rode along in the back seat.

Also attending the ceremony were family members of the other generals honored by the bridge and nearby Generals Park. They were both dedicated during a ceremony Sept. 11, 2021 and honor 18 generals with ties to Quincy who have served the United States since the country’s inception. Seven of the generals, who have served since World War II, are honored with statuary within the park.

The park includes life-size statues of three four-star generals: Joseph Dunford Jr., James McConville, and Gordon Sullivan. Four generals have busts within the park: Francis McGinn, Ronald Rand, the late Stephen Keefe Jr. and the late Charles Sweeney.

The state is picking up the tab for the construction of the bridge and related roadwork on Burgin Parkway, totaling about $10 million.

The bridge has one 11-foot travel lane in each direction, plus a five-foot shoulder, and a sidewalk. Motorists are only allowed to take a right-hand turn onto the bridge traveling north on Burgin Parkway and a right-hand turn off the bridge traveling north on Burgin Parkway. There is no left-hand turn from the bridge onto Burgin Parkway (south).

The city paid the roughly $25 million cost for improvements in the area of the former Ross Lot, including new and improved roadways – General Dunford Drive and General McConville Way – and new subsurface infrastructure. Those funds were set aside in a $61 million district-improvement-financing bond city councillors approved in June 2019 that will be paid back with new tax revenue generated in Quincy Center.

Retired Air Force Brigadier General Ronald Rand waves from a Subaru Outback driven by his brother, Al Rand – the first vehicle to travel the now open Generals Bridge. Riding along in the back seat for the ceremonial first spin along the span is sister Dot Rand. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth
Family members of the seven generals honored at the Generals Bridge and Park gather with Mayor Thomas Koch and Gov. Charlie Baker at a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday marking the opening of the new span that is part of a new network of roads that connect Burgin Parkway with the city-owned garage at the former Hancock Lot. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth