Kevin M. Cahill, 86 years old, Died; Tropical disease expert with political views

Kevin M. Cahill, who has managed to encapsulate many of his careers as a single life as a leading expert on tropical diseases, doctor to celebrities and politicians, is a close advisor to Kevin M. Cahill. Governor Hugh L. Carey of New York and a savior to the ailing Americans of the Irish Historical Society, but who later faced allegations of sexual assault by two women, died Wednesday in home in Point Lookout, NY, on Long Island. He is 86 years old.

His son Brendan said that the cause of death has yet to be determined, but that his father’s health was failing.

A short, stocky man with large bushy eyebrows and a voice that straddles Gaelic brogue and Noo Yawkese, Dr. Cahill has managed to become a globally renowned humanitarian while retaining his source. deep roots in the Irish-American community in New York.

After early stints as a doctor in Cairo and India, where he worked alongside Mother Teresa, Dr. Cahill returned to New York, where he founded one of the country’s first centers for tropical disease, in Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. He was one of the first doctors to call attention to the city’s emerging AIDS crisis, organizing a groundbreaking conference on the disease in 1983.

He spent the late 1970s traveling to Albany, where, as Governor Carey’s health policy expert, he traveled mountains to reshape the state’s erratic health bureaucracy, making a host of enemies but impressing both his detractors as a quick study and an effective political infiltrator.

A leading expert in humanitarian medicine who has worked in 65 countries, Dr. Cahill founded a hospital for amputees in Somalia and directed earthquake relief in Nicaragua, experiences he has gained discussed in 1993 in the NPR program “Fresh air with Terry Gross. “

He was the personal physician to a long list of elite New Yorkers, including leading figures in the city’s Roman Catholic hierarchy. He was with Leonard Bernstein when Bernstein took his last breath. He was one of two American doctors invited to Rome to assess Pope John Paul II’s health after he was shot in 1981.

And as a prominent figure among Irish Americans, who easily quoted Yeats, he revived the American Irish Historical Society, founded in 1897 and occupying a home. stately old building on Fifth Avenue, across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In fact, the society ceased to exist when Dr. Cahill took over it in the early 1970s. He raised funds to renovate its home and make its annual gala a must-do during the day. The city’s social calendar, in the process, helps make Ireland a subject of much interest.

“Dr. Cahill was a pioneer in bringing prominence and seriousness to the study of Irish-American and Irish-American culture that had long been lacking.” Peter Quinna writer and former member of the history society board, said in a phone interview.

Dr. Cahill’s life was not without controversy. His critics consider him self-critical, anti-social and egotistical.

As his time as head of the American Irish Historical Society continued, he was accused of treating it more and more like his personal kingdom. He installed his sons as officers, backed officials over him and unilaterally announced plans to sell the townhouse in 2021, a move being considered by the state government.

“The building on Fifth Avenue is what represents all of us,” said Brian McCabe, a former leading figure in society, told The New York Times that year. “This is about a very small group that controls what is believed by Irish people in America and around the world.”

In 2020, a former patient, Megan Wesko, sued Dr. Cahill in federal court, alleging that he pursued a romantic relationship with her and sexually assaulted her during an audit. investigation, a development reported in The Times in June. In 2022, another woman, Natalie Mauro, said he also sexually assaulted her at his office.

Dr. Cahill has not been charged. He denied the charges and the lawsuit was still pending upon his death.

The grandson of Irish immigrants, Kevin Michael Cahill was born on 5 May 1936, in the Bronx. His father, John, is a doctor. His mother, Genevieve (Campion) Cahill, is a teacher and homemaker.

He studied classics at Fordham University, graduating in 1957, and receiving his medical degree from Cornell in 1961. As a medical student, and later a fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, he to Calcutta, India (now Kolkata), where he worked in a local clinic with Mother Teresa, then a little-known Albanian nun.

“I find romance in contexts that others might – quite legally – see as filthy, wasteland.” he said in a graduation address at Holy Cross College in Massachusetts in 2008. “Surely those negatives existed in Calcutta. But amid the pungent stench of Indian urban decay, I mostly recall the pungent aroma of exotic spices.”

He served in the Navy from 1963 to 1965, working at a research facility in Cairo, after which he returned to New York to establish his medical facility.

He married Kathryn McGinity in 1961. She died in 2004. Along with her son Brendan, he is survived by four other sons, Christopher, Kevin, Sean and Denis, and nine grandchildren.

Dr. Cahill’s experience made him the clear choice of Lenox Hill Hospital to lead the Center for Tropical Diseases, which opened in 1966. In 1970, he was appointed chair of the department of tropical diseases at the University. Royal Surgeon in Dublin, a position he holds. until 2006.

After becoming governor in 1975, Mr. Carey, a product of Irish Catholic politics in New York City, brought Dr. Cahill to Albany and tasked him with cleaning up the healthcare system. sprawling, nearly defaulting on the state’s debt.

The two were old friends, and Dr. Cahill had been one of the governor’s closest advisers. He worked for $1 a day, one day a week, often spending the night at the governor’s mansion.

Albert H. Blumenthal, a Democrat who served as majority leader in the state Assembly, said: “He was very unconventional, quite stubborn and rigid. told The Times in 1977. “But he is an easy man to deal with. There is no deception for him. “

However, the relationship did not last; Dr. Cahill and Mr. Carey are said to have fallen, and Dr. Cahill left the governor’s office in 1980.

He continues to serve on the New York City Health Commission, advises the United Nations on global health, and directs the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham. He has also written several books, including, most recently, “Tropical Medicine: A Clinical Text” (2021). He left both Fordham and Lenox Hill Hospital in 2020.

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