Dr. Cook’s interest in addictions medicine began during medical school. The relatively new field was recognized by the American Medical Association in 1988 when the first delegation for the specialty was added to their House of Delegates. With the rise in both awareness and need at the same time, he was blessed with two related job offers after finishing his training. Intervention Instruction, Inc., an off-branch of Haymarket House and the Catholic Charities, was headed by Ignatius “Father Mac” McDermott, the founder of Haymarket, and Executive Director Sr. Patricia Kilbane. Starting out as the Medical Director in 1991, Dr. Cook currently serves at the Chairman of the Board of Directors, taking on the larger leadership role after Father Mac and Sister Pat had passed away.
The other first job offer was with an in-patient unit of a private psychiatric hospital called Charter Berkeley Hospital. Their leadership team was interested in starting a special LGBT unit for the community at a time when there was none. Dr. Cook got permission to assemble a staff and create a program that began to grow until before long he was in charge of the entire floor and not just the LGBT unit (the “Q” would be added later).
Those early positions began Dr. Cook’s long history of service to the community. His engagement differed from that of other physicians because of his compassion and unique level of understanding of the disease of addiction in that community, specifically as it intersected both the HIV specialty and drug addiction specialty.