Tragically, Jay passed away on August 31, 2018, from a 200 ft. fall while hiking on Longs Peak in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. His wife, five children their families, and this CIMRO family prayed against the odds that he would be found safe after going missing for four days. Sadly, his body was located by search and rescue teams in extremely steep, rugged terrain. Ice, sleet, rain and strong winds undoubtedly contributed to his deadly fall.
Jay lived life as an adventurous spirit, always anticipating his next outdoor journey exploring nature’s finest and highest peaks. He would speak of his physical training, “climbing” on the treadmill set to its steepest angle with a heavy pack on his back. This July, during our URAC accreditation visit, Jay shared with me and staff his planned hike in a few days to Death Valley – he was preparing to do so at night. Of course, I couldn’t help but ask if he was crazy, knowing daytime desert temps of 120 degrees are not uncommon. How would he carry enough water? Similar to other times, he assured us he was ready and able.
Though I can’t recall all the places around the world that Jay hiked, a few places and events stand out, as in his near-death encounter with a wildebeest at Mount Kilimanjaro and needing to self-administer treatment for high-altitude sickness ascending to the top of Mt. McKinley. Bottom-line, he loved the challenge.
Jay had had another incident on Longs Peak four years before it claimed his life. At that time, search and rescue teams were called when he failed to check in during his hike. In true Jay fashion, he refused a helicopter ride off the mountain, instead taking some food and water before hiking it back. He hated all the fuss.
I had the privilege to work alongside and travel with Jay in his role as medical director on many occasions, really getting to know him. From the early years when we spoke at medical staff meetings about Illinois Medicaid requirements; to travels marketing services to health plans; to meetings with mega health systems to acquire contracts for our independent peer review services; to his preparation during URAC visits and the day-to-day medical guidance he offered, we could always count on Jay to come through to meet our needs with his medical expertise, incredible gift to remember the smallest detail, and kind spirit. Respectfully, you knew Jay thought it was a ‘big deal’ when he showed up in his suit and tie, all polished up and ready to go, as we all knew he preferred his tennis shoes, khakis and outdoor gear.
Jay truly was a “Doogie Howser MD” – a brilliant mind, having attained his medical degree at the ripe age of 23 with dual board certifications in emergency medicine and internal medicine. Myself having trained as a trauma nurse in Carbondale, Jay would tell me about his undergrad years as an ambulance driver and paramedic making “mountain” rescues in Shawnee National Forrest while he attended SIU Carbondale. Undoubtedly, all of this further developed and fed his need for adventure, and made him such a skilled ED physician.
As his obituary so well stated, “He lived life to the fullest, making the most of each day. Jay had a contagious smile and infectious laugh. He loved to travel, hike, run, play cards, enjoy meals with friends and spend time with his children and grandchildren. He was such a sweet, caring and kind man who was always willing to extend a hand to those in need. His talents were many as he loved to practice medicine, discuss finance, conduct home repairs, read books ranging from philosophic ideas to computer programming and was always looking to add more skills to his repertoire. He truly was the definition of a Renaissance man. His life and many accomplishments set a great example of always challenging yourself to be your best. His life and legacy will be remembered and celebrated forever.”
CIMRO was so fortunate to share him with many others, who undeniably feel the same loss.
Well done, Jay. Rest in peace, our dear friend – you will be missed. In keeping with the wishes of his family, CIMRO made a donation to the Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue.
Tina Georgy, RN
Chief Executive Officer
2902 Crossing Court
Champaign, IL 61822
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