Steward Cardiothoracic Surgeon Chases Ironman Dream in World Championship
Dr. Jordy Cox aims to inspire others with qualification for elite race in Taupo, New Zealand
(Salt Lake City) – October 29, 2019 - As a cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Jordy Cox is trained to withstand grueling, 16-hour surgeries. As an athlete, he is training for one of the ultimate endurance tests: The 2020 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Taupo, New Zealand.
Dr. Cox sees patients at the Heart and Lung Institute, a Steward Medical Group practice, and performs procedures at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center, a member of Steward Health Care. He recently qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. The Half Ironman race will include a 1.2-mile swim in Great Taupo Lake; a 56-mile bicycle course; and 13.1-mile run. He has also qualified for the U.S. National Championship for Olympic-Distance triathlon, a race to be held in August 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“I enjoy the dedication, the process of getting stronger, and feeling better as I build my endurance through conditioning,” said Dr. Cox. “It fits my personality. Cardiac surgeons, we’re pretty obsessive.”
Although a veteran of numerous marathons, competing in a triathlon piqued Dr. Cox’s interest several years ago and he now trains for 10-15 hours a week with a professional coach. He has been competing seriously for the past three years and in his last four triathlons, the 47-year-old finished first in his age group in three races, and second in a fourth. On October 20, he also competed in an Ironman 70.3 competition in Tempe, Arizona, shaving off several minutes from his World Championship-qualifying event earlier this summer.
“We’re very proud of Dr. Cox’s accomplishment in qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship,” said Dale Johns, president of Salt Lake Regional Medical Center. “His approach to competing is the same as it is to the care of our patients: deeply committed, filled with an enthusiastic passion, and focused on the best outcome possible. We wish him the best of luck and will enjoy cheering him on.”
Steward’s footprint in Utah includes numerous practices as well as Salt Lake Regional Medical Center, Davis Hospital and Medical Center, Jordan Valley Medical Center, Jordan Valley Medical Center – West Valley, and Mountain Point Medical Center. Steward Medical Group is a physician-led organization that is a key part of Steward Health Care - the largest private, tax-paying hospital operator in the United States. The medical group operates practices in 11 states, with both primary care and specialties ranging from Women’s Health to Advanced Cardiac Surgery.
Dr. Cox approaches his training with the same discipline he has mastered to perform complex surgeries. His diet keeps him energized and scientific monitoring equipment keeps his system in check to help prevent injury. He burns through a pair of Brooks running shoes every three months and his preferred bike is a QR- Quintana Roo- which is aerodynamically designed specifically for triathletes. Given his schedule, he trains mostly alone, riding his bike on a trainer in his basement, taking to the mountains for a run, and swimming in open water to approximate race day conditions. While the training itself is rigorous, it is also a release from the rigors of surgery.
“When you’re training, you’re able to tune everything else out,” Dr. Cox said.
Though a surgeon, he considers himself a physician first. That means the care of his patients comes before anything else. “I care a lot about my patients, and I want my patients to do well,” Dr. Cox said. “I get very personally involved.”
He also uses his athletic interests to help inspire patients to become more fit and lead healthier lives. Studies show that within a year of undergoing heart surgery, approximately 90 percent of those patients have returned to the habits that brought them to surgery in the first place. He preaches the notion of small changes, which can be easier for patients to stick with over time.
“I try to encourage them to make better lifestyle choices and begin a new phase of their life after surgery,” he said.
One patient who heeded that advice is now training to compete himself in an Ironman 70.3 competition next year. Overall, the Cardiac Surgery program at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center has outcomes that are above the national average. The medical center’s cardiac services include cardiac catheterization and coronary intervention, coronary artery bypass, valve and structural repair surgery, treatment and management of: peripheral vascular disease, and arrhythmia, as well as transcatheter aortic valve replacement, diagnostic, structural, and interventional cardiology. In addition, it provides cardiovascular intensive care. More information on the services is available at : https://www.saltlakeregional.org/services-directory/cardiology.
While Dr. Cox trains as an Ironman, he is also a surgeon blessed with nerves of steel. For more than a decade he has volunteered for Doctors Without Borders, performing trauma surgery in conflict zones around the world including the Gaza Strip, Congo, Pakistan, Yemen, and the Ivory Coast. He was recognized by The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation with its Citizen Service Above Self Award, an award that recognizes the contributions of non-military civilians, following his volunteer efforts with Doctors Without Borders in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. In ten days, Dr. Cox and his small team operated on 1,000 patients in a makeshift OR, sustaining only 11 patient losses.
“It was a thing for me from the beginning…something I wanted to do,” he said of serving with Doctors Without Borders. “I feel you have a duty, a responsibility to do these things if you can,” he said.
Whether at the hospital or in a war zone, Dr. Cox is quick to credit his team without whom he would be unable to accomplish his procedures, especially the nurses, physical therapists, and ancillary staff who help provide comprehensive care to his patients.
“Dr. Cox embodies the spirit of excellence we strive for at Steward Medical Group,” said Dr. Michael Callum, president of Steward Medical Group. “He sets the bar high for the care he provides, his humanitarian work, and the elite athletics he pursues. We are fortunate to have someone of his caliber as part of our organization.”
Over the coming year, Dr. Cox will prepare for Taupo by following a strict regimen of training, dividing the next 12 months into phases to optimize his conditioning, strength, and endurance. He will compete in several races including a 70.3-mile Ironman competition in California later this fall, as well as the Ironman 140.6-mile in St. George, Utah, next May. He also plans to run in the Salt Lake City Marathon next April.
Dr. Cox’s personal best in the Ironman 70.3 is a time of 5 hours, 6 minutes, which he accomplished in a race in Texas last year on a flat, cold, and fast course. Given the pool of elite athletes competing in Taupo, he does not envision standing on the winners’ podium, but is chasing the aspiration of another personal best.
“I’d love to break 4:45, but that’s going to take a lot more training,” he said.
About Steward Health Care Utah
In Utah, Steward Health Care operates five hospitals, Davis Hospital and Medical Center, Jordan Valley Medical Center, Jordan Valley Medical Center - West Valley Campus, Mountain Point Medical Center and Salt Lake Regional Medical Center. The Utah Steward network also includes the Davis Hospital Weber Campus Emergency Department, and the Steward Urgent & Primary Care centers in Taylorsville and Woods Cross. Steward Medical Group Utah employs primary and specialty care physicians and surgeons with locations all along the Wasatch Front. The managed care and health insurance services include Steward Health Care Network and Steward Health Choice Utah. Steward Health Care is the exclusive health care partner of REAL Salt Lake soccer clubs and Utah Grizzlies hockey.
Steward Health Care is the largest private, for profit physician led healthcare network in the United States. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Steward operates 37 hospitals in the United States and the country of Malta that regularly receive top awards for quality and safety. The company employs approximately 42,000 health care professionals. The Steward network includes multiple urgent care centers and skilled nursing facilities, substantial behavioral health services, over 7,900 beds under management, and approximately 2.2 million full risk covered lives through the company's managed care and health insurance services.
The Steward Health Care Network includes five thousand physicians across 800 communities who help to provide more than 12 million patient encounters per year. Steward Medical Group, the company's employed physician group, provides more than six million patient encounters per year. The Steward Hospital Group operates hospitals in Malta and nine states across the U.S., including Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah. For more information, visit www.steward.org.