42-year-old Eric Jones, Sergeant for the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, has seen his relationship with Hannibal Regional Healthcare System evolve from being a patient to serving as an active board member.
Early one morning on Labor Day weekend 2020, Eric began to experience labored breathing, heavy chest pains and a burning sensation. When he began to sweat uncontrollably, he decided he’d better wake his wife and his daughter, who is an LPN. “I put my hands on my heart and started to pray. As I was praying I had thoughts of a heart attack running through my mind,” Eric remembers. Although heart disease does not run in his family, he knew something was terribly wrong.
Once he woke his wife and daughter, they noticed that he was clutching his left hand. They knew he was in trouble and immediately took him to the emergency room at Hannibal Regional Hospital. On the way there, Eric noticed that his jaw ached and realized he was indeed having a heart attack. At the ER, it was confirmed that he had definitely had a heart attack. They discovered he had a blood clot in one of the major arteries of the heart. Thankfully the medical team was able to treat the clot and place a stent in the artery to reestablish blood flow.
After Eric was released from the hospital, he went through the Cardiac Rehab program at Hannibal Regional. “I had a great experience. The girls in Cardiac Rehab were very caring and great teachers. They taught me how to pay attention to my heart and listen to my body. I also appreciate what the registered dietitian taught me about proper nutrition on my road to recovery and after,” shares Eric.
Eric now follows up regularly with Dr. Santhosh Mannem, Interventional Cardiologist at Hannibal Regional Medical Group. “After experiencing such a life-altering experience I became much more aware of the importance of preventive care,” Eric shares. This has also opened his eyes to healthcare issues in the community. “Before this experience, like a lot of other people, I wouldn’t go to the doctor unless something was wrong. I just assumed that due to my physical activity with work, I was pretty healthy,” Eric says. He now understands that preventive care is just as important as acute care and is on a mission to educate others.
The first step Eric took in this journey was to join the Race and Healthcare Equity Group comprised of Hannibal Regional team members and community members. The group was formed to explore ways to meet the needs of a diverse community and reduce barriers to care for minorities. This group quickly realized that a great way to help educate the community about the importance of preventive healthcare was by speaking to local church groups and setting up informational booths at public events.
Through his work on this committee and throughout the Hannibal community, Eric‘s visibility increased and a few Hannibal Regional Healthcare System board members noticed and were impressed with what he was doing. When a spot became available on the board of directors, Eric was nominated. “The nomination came as a complete surprise to me, but I saw it as an opportunity to further serve the community,” says Eric. “I believe everyone is put here to be of service to others, and that you have to seize opportunities like this when they arise because it’s important to develop yourself so that you can then help develop others.” Eric says he looks forward to continuing his contribution to expanding the equity of healthcare in the Hannibal community.
Eric wants people to understand that, “The most important thing you can do for your health and your family’s health is to have regular checkups with a primary care physician and to educate yourself on your family’s health history.”
If you would like to establish care for yourself or your family please call the Hannibal Regional Medical Group at 573-629-3500.