Married physician leaders set to retire


Two of OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital’s top physician leaders in cardiac care are retiring after more than 20 years at the hospital.

Gregory Eaton, MD, OhioHealth’s Heart and Vascular system chief of the north region, and Mary Alton, MD, non-invasive cardiac imaging director of Mansfield Hospital’s Heart and Vascular Program, will leave the hospital on July 1. The married couple has been at Mansfield Hospital since 2001, and while they say they’ll miss their patients dearly, they feel confident knowing they’re leaving the community better than when they first joined it.

“We think our legacy is we’ve left it better,” said Eaton.

While Eaton and Alton both started their education in Ohio, it took them a while to find each other. Alton graduated from the University of Dayton for her undergraduate degree before earning her Doctor of Medicine at The Ohio State University’s College of Medicine. She then completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at The Ohio State University hospitals before taking on her cardiology fellowship there. That’s where she met Eaton, who was working alongside her to complete the same training.

Eaton got his undergraduate degree from Wittenburg University before earning his Doctor of Medicine at The Ohio State University’s College of Medicine. He then completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Iowa before returning to Ohio State. After meeting and falling in love while earning their fellowship, Alton and Eaton got married and began their careers together at The Ohio State University.

Alton and Eaton didn’t choose the easy road when deciding where to continue growing in their careers. They climbed the ranks at The Ohio State University for 11 years, with Eaton holding positions such as director of the cardiac catheterization lab and director of the department of cardiovascular medicine, and Alton working as the medical director of OSU Cardiology at Mill Run while also teaching as an assistant professor. However, they soon realized it wasn’t the best fit for their family.

When Alton received word in the mail that Mansfield Hospital was looking to hire cardiologists, she knew she wanted to return home. At this point, Alton and Eaton had three kids, and having Alton’s mother around as a sitter was extremely enticing. More importantly, they knew Eaton would be able to spend more time with the family. And that, to them, was most valuable.

While returning home had its perks, Alton and Eaton had their professional work cut out for them. According to Eaton, Mansfield Hospital’s heart and vascular program, part of MedCentral at the time, was not as highly regarded as it is today.

“When we got here, the vast majority of patients were going to the Cleveland Clinic or to Columbus,” said Eaton. “Very few stayed within the community or stayed locally to get their heart care.”

Alton and Eaton spent the next two decades working to change that.

Mansfield Hospital’s Heart and Vascular Program expanded exponentially in the last 20 years, and a big portion of that is due to Alton and Eaton. Alton’s focus was on improving patient care and eliminating risk. In her current role as cardiovascular imaging director, Alton put measures in place to reduce radiation exposure. In the first calendar year of implementing those new protocols, the hospital saved patients the equivalent of more than 600,000 chest X-rays worth of radiation dosing.

“I feel like personally, I’ve kept people from getting cancer,” said Alton. “So I’m really proud of that.”

Eaton’s contributions were also far-reaching, both for the Heart and Vascular Program and beyond. He was instrumental in coming up with Mansfield Hospital’s medical office building concept, which opened in 2015. The expansion improved collaboration across all service lines at the hospital. He was also responsible for adding advanced cardiac imaging technology and creating Mansfield Hospital’s Structural Heart Program. The program provides less-invasive cardiac procedures, requiring less recovery time. Mansfield Hospital became the only hospital in the north region to offer this level of heart and vascular care and people started to take notice.

“The hospital and our program have been recognized as within the top 5% in the country of all hospitals and so that’s an achievement that we’re proud of,” said Eaton. “We take pride in changing that dialogue and that perception that now heart care is just as good as going north or south with very limited exceptions. And that doesn’t just fall on Alton and I, but it’s kind of a team effort.”

While Eaton and Alton feel their team has become stronger than ever, their biggest supporters have always been each other. That’s why they knew their retirement was something they would embark on together. After working more than 30 years as cardiologists, the duo will retire July 1. They plan on traveling, relaxing, and most importantly, enjoying their first grandchild.

OhioHealth administrative leaders said they’ll be missed, but their legacy will live on.

“The heart and vascular service line and OhioHealth owe Greg and Mary a tremendous debt of gratitude for their leadership, commitment, and excellence that we hope to repay by continuing to build on their vision for heart and vascular services at OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital,” said Chief Clinical Officer Teri Caulin-Glaser, MD. “Now it is time for Greg and Mary to pursue the enrichment of their own lives, just as they have enriched countless other lives.”

Submitted by OhioHealth.

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