The founding chair of the Department of Family Medicine at ECU is commended for his lifelong commitment
A plaque on the newly named James G. “Jim” Jones Chair’s Pavilion at East Carolina University Department of Family Medicine Jones has an enormous list of honors and titles by which he is best known.
Defending. a hero. Family doctor. insight. Guide. advisor. Friend.
The lyrics pay tribute to Jones, founding chair of ECU’s family medicine division Brody College of MedicineAnd his life’s work came easily and emphatically as his impact on ECU and North Carolina healthcare was celebrated Jan. 27 at a luncheon with state leaders in health care and higher education.
Native American Honor Awarded
Remarks from East Carolina University, the City of Pembroke, the Robeson County Board of Commissioners, and the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina commended the extraordinary accomplishments of Jones, the founding chair of ECU’s Division of Family Medicine.
On behalf of the Lumbee tribe, UNC-Pembroke advisor Robin Gary Cummings presented Jones with this declaration. Among the honors was an eagle’s feather, which the Native American tribe had permission to bestow.
“In American Indian culture, since the eagle flies so high, it is believed to be the closest creature to the Creator,” Cummings said. “An eagle is strength, wisdom and courage. When an eagle feather is given, that person is recognized as the best.”
Cummings realized that most North Carolina leaders of Jones’ stature would also be awarded the Long Liver Pine, the state’s highest civilian honor, but did not award him because he had previously received the award.
Thousands of North Carolinians have benefited from Jones’ influence on family medicine. Many were cared for by Jones directly as a practicing physician, and more were treated by physicians trained by Jones during his 20 years of leadership of the ECU’s Family Medicine Department. Family physicians will take care of other generations because of the foundation he has built. Cummings said Jones lived up to the biblical phrase, “To whom much is given, much is required.”
“I think Jim Jones has lived under that warning his whole life,” Cummings said. “Can any other statement better sum up Jim’s life, the person he is, and his accomplishments?”
– Patricia Earnhardt Tyndall
Jones said he wished there was a language other than the word love to describe his feelings for the colleagues and friends who gathered in his honor. Although the guests leaned in to hear Jones’ every word, it was a day for others to pay tribute to him with their admiration, appreciation, and appreciation. These honors were bestowed in a hall used daily to educate future physicians.
In recognition of Jones’ distinguished career, friends and colleagues have raised more than $333,000 to establish the Dr. James G. Jones Distinguished Professorship of Family Medicine at ECU Brody School of Medicine. ECU will file a $167,000 match application from North Carolina State to He awarded professorships to ensure that Jones’ legacy would last for generations.
ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers shared the university’s mission and core commitments to student success, public service, and regional transformation.
“Those words have meaning. They are rooted in our DNA,” Rogers said. “I’m not sure we could have a better embodiment of the ECU’s mission in action than Dr. Jones.”
During Rogers’ tenure as Legislative Coordinator and Chief of Staff for the ECU, he experienced Jones’ influence firsthand when the need for a Family Medicine Center was brought to the Chancellor’s Office.
“There were some wise men who said, ‘We can get this done because we know the guy who can help make this happen and that’s Jim Jones.'” “Guys, he did,” Rogers said. “We are sitting in this room today as a result of his vision and leadership in developing this state-of-the-art family medicine center at a cost of $36.8 million.”
Rogers said the ECU is able to carry out its mission because of the progress that stands on the shoulders of people like Jones, who laid the foundation for where we are today.
“I say again, how grateful we are and how proud we are to call you a friend,” said Rogers.
Jones and his guests were greeted by Chili Alexander, chair of the Department of Family Medicine.
“This beautiful facility was conceived and endorsed by Dr. Jim Jones,” she said. “It is incredible to have the opportunity to work here every day, and it is an honor to serve in the same role as Dr. Jones.”
Alexander said the Department of Family Medicine has become an invaluable asset to ECU and Eastern North Carolina solely because of Jones’ incredible work in creating the department. She noted his determination to make it one of the best family medicine programs in the country and doing all the work behind the scenes to create a state-of-the-art family medicine center.
“I am pleased to report that ECU family medicine is booming,” said Alexander. “We have trained more than 400 family medicine residents since the inception of the program that Dr. Jones envisioned. By standing on the shoulders of giants in the discipline we are successful and Dr. Jones is thanks to your vision and advocacy that we have built upon your work.”
Alexander shared that ECU consistently has the highest percentage of graduates in North Carolina who choose to attend family medicine and is in the top 10 schools in the country for the percentage of students who get into family medicine programs.
Jones’ work to create a medical school to train more family medicine physicians began 50 years ago when he was president of the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians and a practicing physician in Jacksonville. UNU System President Bell on Friday asked him to set up a family medicine clinic at ECU.
UNC-Pembroke Consultant Robin Gary Cummings, a friend, colleague and co-chair of the Jones Endowment Planning Committee, described Jones as proof that circumstances do not determine where you go in life; They just say where to start.
Jones was 5 years old when his parents left him to be raised by his grandparents in rural Robson County. Cummings described a quote Jones’ grandmother often recited, “Do a job big or small, do it well, or don’t do it at all.”
A member of the Lumbe tribe, Jones went on to be a distinguished graduate of Wake Forest University, the first American Indian to graduate from the Bowman Gray College of Medicine, as well as the first to become the clinical department chair of a medical school in the United States. Upon completing his training at Grady Hospital in Atlanta and his stay with the US Navy at Camp Lejeune, Jones established a thriving medical practice in Jacksonville.
Cummings said Jones dreamed of following Albert Schweitzer and becoming a medical missionary in Africa. Instead, when it wasn’t so common to do it, “it became the biggest advocate for family medicine in our country,” Cummings said. “He and a very select group have forced the North Carolina General Assembly to consider health care in rural North Carolina.”
Cummings read several letters sent by Governor Roy Cooper and former Governor Jim Hunt recognizing Jones as a giant in medicine.
Cooper’s letter read, “I sincerely appreciate your dedication to medical care for the poor and rural North Carolina.”
Of his great appreciation for Jones, Hunt wrote: “Jim is one of the great visionary leaders in the history of our state and one of the giants in helping make North Carolina what it is today. A very humble man, Jim is a true North Carolina treasure.”
Howard Stein, of Jacksonville, first met Jones in 1963 when he was 10 years old at Jones’ new medical clinic. With great emotion, Stein described the friendship that became a 60-year love affair between Jones and his family.
“I remember my dad saying he couldn’t imagine someone meeting Dr. Jones and not liking him,” Stein said. “He’s a guy with amazing character. He’s everything you want a guy to be from start to finish.”
“I was a lucky guy in every way,” Stein added. “He was my doctor, guide, grief counselor, and spiritual advisor when I needed one. Most of all, he was my friend.”
Jones looked into the room of friends and began to learn about their work in family medicine, for the success of which he credited him and the reason for the honor bestowed on him in his name.
“I’m amazed at this wonderful thing that’s happened here,” Jones said. “I am humbled and I deeply appreciate that.”
Practitioner turned teacher again as Jones gave a master class describing how a poor boy from Robeson County became a physician, found his mission and changed family medicine in North Carolina.
For a long time, Jones said, the extreme eastern and western parts of our state were outbacks ignored by academia. He was led to believe that the existing medical schools would not train family physicians as East Carolina was proposing to do.
When Jones was first called to meet with the president on Friday, it was an attempt to get Jones to back out of his idea of training family physicians. Jones tended to do the opposite. He led the NC Academy of Family Physicians to unanimously support ECU’s efforts to open a medical school and educate state leaders about the need for local physicians.
“I knew that if we didn’t train doctors there would be no one to take care of patients in rural areas,” Jones said. “It turns out that most of the sitting legislators had a family doctor. I want you all to take a little booth outside their offices and let them know who you are.”
Jones liked being a practicing physician and when he was asked to come to the ECU to lead Family Medicine, he directed his efforts towards finding someone else to fill the position.
“I really didn’t want to be completely honest with you,” said Jones. “I agreed to come for two years. I have 20 left.”
Jones said he initially thought of himself as an evangelist. He believes his time as the founding chair of family medicine at ECU was God’s way of using his ministry.
“I found my destiny, and I believe that my place of service was not in Africa,” said Jones. “My area of mission was to establish physicians in rural North Carolina.”
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