EASTON — University of Maryland Shore Regional Health and Talbot County Department of Emergency Services honored the late Gary Jones, former director for the Heart and Vascular Center at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton, for his more than 50 years of service and advancements to advanced life support and cardiovascular services with a small event with family, colleagues and community members earlier this month.
A member of the UM SRH staff for more than 50 years, Jones died unexpectedly in June 2021. To honor his many accomplishments for the Mid- and Upper Shore communities, the event included the presentation of two official citations, one that will be installed at the Talbot County DES Operations Center in Easton, and one that will be installed at the Cardiac Intervention Center and Cath Lab at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton.
Ken Kozel, UM SRH president and CEO, spoke during the ceremony, noting that Jones was not only a member of the UM SRH staff, but he was the heart of his team.
“Gary was a mentor to many, including his peers, team members and those in our community,” Kozel said. “He was also relentless in his fight for the people of the Eastern Shore to have the best, highest quality care, close to home.”
Brian LeCates, director of the Talbot DES, echoed Kozel’s statement, saying the advancements Jones made included hospital-based cardiovascular and respiratory care, outpatient preventive cardiovascular care, and advanced life support pre-hospital care. These new care protocols were expanded beyond Talbot County to advance life-saving cardiac care throughout five-county region served by UM Shore Regional Health.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without the tireless efforts of Gary and the Talbot Paramedic Foundation,” LeCates said.
Maryland State Senator Addie Eckardt, R-37, also delivered several proclamations during the event. SRH speakers included Benjamin Remo, MD, medical director of Electrophysiology; Jeffrey Etherton, MD, medical director of Interventional Cardiology; Steve Eisemann, director of Respiratory Services and Melissa Svehla, manager of Cardiovascular Services.
Remo acknowledged Jones’ wife, Ruth Ann Jones, retired Chief Nursing Officer for UM SRH, and the couples’ son, Brian, and daughter, Erin, who were in attendance.
“I wish to thank Ruth Ann, Gary’s family and friends for providing the tremendous support that he must have needed to succeed at all the Herculean tasks that he undertook throughout his life,” Remo said. “As we remember Gary’s life work, I encourage all of us to keep three ideas in mind: Taking care of patients takes precedence over everything, there is no greater honor or privilege than taking care of the neighbors in your community, and there is no more powerful tool in health care than team work — every member deserves respect and to be shown value and appreciation.”
Etherton said Jones’ hobby of playing drums in his free time as the drummer and leader of a local band when they first met was when he first realized that Jones “would ‘keep the beat’ and ‘maintain the rhythm of the band, for all to enjoy.”
“It was a skill he maintained his whole life,” Etherton said, noting Jones’ unwavering persistence in building and establishing the first Cardiac Intervention Center on the Mid-Shore.
“Gary’s call to me in April 2016 completed a cycle that he had started over 50 years ago,” Etherton said. “He asked me to come home and unlock the door, and help him maintain the beat and restore the rhythm of people now victims of serious cardiac disease, by restoring precious blood flow to their hearts – his purpose in life and goal all along. We’ve now done more than 1,000 of these procedures here at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton, largely because of his vision and hard work.”
Eisemann and Svehla remarked on Jones’ ability to truly care about his team, and instill in them several principles by which they still live and work by today; patience, integrity, leadership, leaving no stone unturned, dedication, mentorship, family and caring.
“Leaving a legacy is something we all strive for,” Eisemann said. “Putting a stamp on the future, and making a contribution to future generations that will withstand the test of time is something Gary accomplished unselfishly during his outstanding career.”
The official citation, which will now live at both Talbot DES and UM SRH, reads, “During his career, Gary worked tirelessly to establish and grow pre-hospital cardiac care in the County and across the Eastern Shore while also establishing numerous cardiovascular specialty programs at University of Maryland Shore Regional Health. Gary’s unwavering commitment to the community’s comprehensive cardiovascular care began as a volunteer Advance Life Support Provider, an instructor and mentor, and was capped by his leadership of Shore Medical Center at Easton’s designation by the State of Maryland as a Cardiac Intervention Center in 2018 and the establishment of the Heart and Vascular Center in 2019. Thank you for your meritorious service to our community.”