Jack Eck - 2015
Frederick J. Eck first touched down in Vail, Colorado in the late 1960’s, skiing the fledgling resort when not interning at Denver’s Presbyterian Hospital. When the U.S. Army punched his ticket to Vietnam, the Pennsylvania native vowed to return to practice medicine in a ski town, if he survived the war. Fortunately for Eagle County, that’s exactly how the story played out.Following a tour of duty as a combat flight surgeon, Eck “escaped” to the Vail Valley in 1971. Hired by Vail’s original doctor, Tom Steinberg, in October of that year, Jack saw an opportunity to apply his experience in Vietnam to helping shape advanced orthopedic and medical first responder techniques used by the ski patrol.The first medical advisor to the Vail Ski Patrol, Eck often sported the iconic red coat with the white cross on Vail Mountain. Early in his practice, Eck helped create a community hospital with big city resources and expertise, working on the grass roots level to raise funds and create the facilities and operation back-up.He helped to establish a cardiac program in the mid-70’s following a pair of fatal heart attacks at Mid-Vail, while also playing a critical role in setting up the Medical Center’s first Intensive Care Unit in 1980. The Vail Valley Medical Center was also among the first Western Slope facilities to feature Obstetrics and Gynecology departments.In later years, Eck pushed hard to help make the Vail Valley Medical Center a regional comprehensive health care facility, including the addition of the Shaw Regional Cancer Center in Edwards, where “Jack’s Place”, a cancer caring house, provides welcome refuge for recovering cancer patients and their families.In 2008, Eck hung up his red Ski Patrol parka for the final time, accepting a new role as Executive Vice President of Clinical Program Development and Community Outreach for the hospital. Among the many enhancements that have been put in place as a result of his leadership include an Emergency Medical Services system, establishing Vail professional Ski Patrol basic qualification requirements and development and enhancement of on-mountain medical protocols. He also served as chairman of the Medical Committee for the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek.