From the time he was a little boy, Jeffrey Hord said he was going to be a doctor.
“I don’t remember saying it, but my mom told me that I always did,” said Dr. Hord, the director of Akron Children’s Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders.
He thinks routine visits to the doctor must have made an impression on him as a child, although he hated those visits and wasn’t a very good patient.
Dr. Hord grew up in Tollesboro, a small town in northeast Kentucky. After graduation, he headed to the University of Kentucky, where he majored in chemistry and minored in biology. He also attended medical school there.
“At that point, I thought I’d become a general practitioner,” he said. “I really didn’t know yet about other opportunities that were available.”
His first clinical rotation was in pediatrics and his first patient was a boy named Michael, who was just diagnosed with leukemia.
He found it interesting to see all the pieces that came together in Michael’s care, particularly the roles of the lab and then research when Michael was enrolled in a clinical trial.
But the aspect of Michael’s care that made the biggest impression was the lasting bond that Michael and his family developed with the hospital team.
“I knew then that I wanted to work in a specialty where I could form those lasting relationships with my patients,” Dr. Hord said.
After becoming a pediatric hematologist-oncologist, Dr. Hord was working at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in 1999, when he learned that Akron Children’s was looking for a new director of childhood cancer and blood disorders.
Coincidentally, his wife, Patricia, a pediatrician in the Hudson office of Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics, is originally from Canal Fulton, Ohio. Patricia’s mom, Mary Jane Garton, was a long-time volunteer at Akron Children’s.
Under Dr. Hord’s leadership over the last 14 years, Akron Children’s cancer and blood disorder services have grown.
He’s also been tapped as a leader both within the hospital and at the national level through the American Society of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and the American Academy of Pediatrics. He recently served as president of Children’s medical staff.
Yet, it’s his role in helping patients battle serious illnesses that’s most humbling.
“As rewarding as this is, it’s also difficult to see families suffer, and we still lose patients, which takes its own emotional toll,” he said.
Away from his patients and administrative duties, Dr. Hord keeps busy spending time with his own family, which includes Ryan, 20, a sophomore at the University of Kentucky; Catherine, 12, and Luke, 8, who are both students at Seton Catholic School in Hudson.