Published on November 30, 2020

Beloved Cardiovascular Surgeon Set to Retire After More Than a Decade of Service in Midland

Photo of Robert Jones, M.D., M.H.A., posing in the OR in scrubs.

Cardiovascular Surgeon Robert N. Jones, M.D., M.H.A., will retire from MidMichigan Health after more than 14 years as director of the open heart surgery program at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland. 

Robert N. Jones, M.D., M.H.A., has made a career out of helping patients in the area of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery. Well known in the Great Lakes Bay region and throughout Michigan for his team’s excellent surgical outcomes, Dr. Jones will retire on December 6, 2020 after more than 14 years as director of the open heart surgery program at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland and member of the comprehensive heart and vascular team at MidMichigan Health. In this new chapter of his life, he intends to develop a plan to utilize his skills and a newly earned master’s degree in health administration and leadership to “remain relevant in the field of medicine and continue waking up each day with purpose.”

Dr. Jones grew up in Chicago going on house calls with his dad who was a professor of medicine at Rush University Medical Center. Inspired by his father’s professionalism and dedication to his patients, he knew he wanted to be involved in the field of medicine in some way. While attending Rush Medical College, he became fascinated with the field of cardiac surgery as early as his second year of medical school, and knew that was where his passion lay.

After completing a residency and fellowship in 1985 in general and cardiothoracic surgery at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, Dr. Jones, his wife Mica, and two children, David and Juliana, moved to Michigan to be closer to his family in Chicago. He helped grow a successful private practice in cardiac surgery in Saginaw, while working at Midland doing non-cardiac thoracic surgery. In 2005, he was approached by Rick Reynolds, former president of MidMichigan Health, to see whether he would be interested in helping build a cardiovascular surgical program at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland.

“I was excited by this prospect,” said Dr. Jones. “Once the details were worked out and a Certificate of Need secured, we conducted the first open heart surgery in 2007. Now, 14 years later, our team has performed roughly 3,500 open heart operations. It’s been a fantastic journey. We also have a newly constructed, state-of-the-art Heart and Vascular Center which shall make cardiac and vascular care here even better.”

The new Heart and Vascular Center combines all services related to heart and vascular health under one roof. This approach not only lets patients have the convenience of visiting one location on the Medical Center campus for care, it also puts team members in close proximity to one another to best collaborate.

“One thing that I will truly miss is the amazing team with which I have been privileged to work over the years, and gotten to know so well,” said Dr. Jones. “My cardiology colleagues led by Dr. William Felten are among the best in the country, and with cardiac surgery and cardiology now under one roof in our exciting new Heart and Vascular Center, the cardiovascular services have become much stronger. I would put this team up against any other in the country, not only in regards to skill but in delivering compassionate care.”

Dr. Jones sees incredible advances emerging that require less invasive procedures, which mean faster recovery time for patients. “I’d like to see medicine as a whole focus on preventative health,” he said. “The pandemic has brought to the forefront glaring gaps in our ability to deliver preventative healthcare in an equitable fashion. Making public health a greater priority and vital force in this country will also become an important issue going forward.”

According to Dr. Jones, there are four basic tenants in maintaining good cardiovascular health: refrain from smoking and control chronic health care problems like hypertension and diabetes; get as close as one can to eating a whole food, plant-based diet; make exercise a daily ritual, just like brushing one’s teeth is; and reduce stress by adopting practices like mindfulness meditation. “Everything else is beyond our control and genetic in origin,” he added.

Dr. Jones adheres to each of those tenants. He also believes music is vitally important for wellbeing and plays violin as a member of the Midland Community Orchestra. He looks forward to having down time after retiring to make plans on how to best use his master’s degree and, when it is safe to do so, traveling back to Italy with his wife to spend more time with her family in Bolzano and other parts of Italy. He is immensely appreciative of the support and love given to him by his wife Mica through a career spanning 46 years.

“While the decision of when to retire is always difficult, I’m comforted in knowing that I’m leaving the open heart surgery program in the very capable hands of Dr. Alonso Collar, and Advanced Nurse Practitioners Beth Sheridan, Kevin Weaver, and Rachel Christianson, along with a full supporting cast of extremely talented cardiovascular nurses and surgical team members,” he added. 

“We are so incredibly thankful to Dr. Jones’ immense contributions to the development and growth of our Heart and Vascular Program,” said Sunita Vadakath, M.D., F.R.C.A., M.P.A., vice president of service lines for MidMichigan Health. “Over the years, he has impacted the lives of so many, from patients and family members, to doctors, nurses and support staff. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues and the cardiovascular surgical team.”

Those who would like more information on MidMichigan Health’s comprehensive Heart and Vascular Program may visit www.midmichigan.org/heartandvascular.