(HARTFORD, Conn.) – Following the recent approval of a certificate of need (CON) by the Connecticut Office of Health Care Access (OHCA) for its proposed North Tower, the Board of Directors of Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center today announced that the new eight-story patient tower will be named the John T. O’Connell Tower in recognition of a major gift from Nancy and Daniel O’Connell, of South Glastonbury. Mr. O’Connell is a member of the Hospital’s Board of Directors, as well as the Boards of the Saint Francis Foundation and the Saint Francis Physician Hospital Organization (PHO).

“The O’Connells are making this contribution in memory of their son, John, who was treated for cancer at Saint Francis prior to his death in 1996,” said Christopher M. Dadlez, the Hospital’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are extremely grateful to Mr. and Mrs. O’Connell for this unprecedented act of generosity, made through The Valencia Society, which will enhance the health of countless members of our community.”

Named for Mother Ann Valencia, C.S.J., the Hospital’s founder, the Society honors those who have remembered Saint Francis in their estate plans.

The anticipated value of this gift from the O’Connells’ estate is currently placed at a minimum of $5 million, making this the largest commitment to Saint Francis in its 110-year history. “Our family was touched by the caring and compassion that John received at Saint Francis. Through this gift, we want to help ensure that this care will be available to future generations. We also hope that those whose families have also been touched by Saint Francis will consider supporting the Hospital,” said Mr. O’Connell.

Groundbreaking for the John T. O’Connell Tower is anticipated to take place in August, with completion expected in December 2009. The 262,000-square foot structure will be located on the north side of Saint Francis’ main campus. It will contain an expanded Emergency Department; 19 replacement operating rooms; and 108 modernized rooms, replacing beds in older buildings in response to patient needs for more contemporary accommodations. The new Emergency Department will feature 68 patient treatment areas, compared to the 49 bays available in Saint Francis’ current Emergency Department, with facilities to accommodate 10 ambulances simultaneously, compared to six currently. A new helipad for medical helicopters will be located on the roof of the building.

“Nancy and Dan O’Connell have been active supporters of Saint Francis for the past decade, both financially and through their service to the Hospital. Like so many others whose lives have been touched by the skilled and compassionate care of Saint Francis, the O’Connells have found a way to express their gratitude in a thoughtful and meaningful way for generations to come,” said Paul Pendergast, President of the Saint Francis Foundation.

Founded in 1897, Saint Francis is a major teaching hospital licensed for 617 acute inpatient beds and 65 bassinets and is the largest Catholic hospital in New England.