Friends, Colleague Fondly Remember Former AAMI Board Member as a ‘True Iconoclast’

Posted May 10, 2018

John Hughes
John Hughes goofing around with three pairs of glasses.

Friends and colleagues are remembering the life and contributions of former AAMI Board member John Daniel Hughes Jr. who died on May 3 at the age of 63.

Hughes, who held a bachelor’s degree in applied behavioral science and a master’s degree focused on health services administration, worked at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC, as well as Bon Secours Health System in Marriottsville, MD, as corporate director for contract administration before retiring.

“It seems as though it was not that long ago that I was interviewing John to be a supervisor at Washington Hospital Center,” recalled Dave Dickey, vice president of clinical engineering for McLaren Health Care. “As he moved up in the ranks, and eventually took over my director position when I moved on, John certainly developed his skills as a great negotiator and a stickler for detail and documentation. He was always willing to help with anything thrown at him.”

Hughes was a longtime AAMI member and leader, having served on the association’s Board of Directors, AAMI Awards Committee, Annual Conference Planning Committee, BI&T Editorial Board, and Technology Management Council, and was one of the early advocates of bridging the gap between the clinical engineering and information technology communities. However, Hughes might be best remembered for his wit, especially during the popular “Technical Iconoclast” session at the AAMI Annual Conference & Expo, in which he participated year after year alongside colleagues Malcolm Ridgway and Eben Kermit.

“I have a very special place in my heart for John Hughes as a very dear friend and as a mentor. We interacted through our longtime shared enthusiasm for the annual celebration known as the ‘Technical Iconoclast Session,’” said Ridgway, a veteran clinical engineer. “As my co-iconoclasts know very well, John had a wickedly sly and penetrating wit; he was the consummate iconoclast and enriched every session in which he participated.”

Kermit, a biomedical engineering supervisor at Stanford Health Care in Palo Alto, CA, shared similar sentiments.

“John worked assiduously on timely topics to make medical practice safer and more effective. He also had a dry sense of humor that was infectious,” Kermit said. “I will personally miss John as an active contributor to AAMI in so many ways. John was a true iconoclast and superhero.”

Hughes’ commitment to the healthcare technology management field and sense of humor were common themes in remembrances by colleagues.

“John contributed a great deal to the clinical engineering community over the years and always had a great sense of humor,” said Larry Hertzler, vice president of technical operations at Aramark. “He certainly enjoyed a good debate and likely won more than he lost. I’ll certainly miss him.”

“John was visionary, professional, and opinionated friend. I enjoyed the small talks we had—always coupled with undertone of sharp humor,” said Yadin David, the founder and owner of Biomedical Engineering Consultants in Houston, TX.

Perhaps Elliot Sloane, president and executive director of the Center for Healthcare Information Research and Policy, summed Hughes life and legacy up best.

“John was a good friend, father, and husband who will remain eternally in heart and memory. Never a shrinking violet, John fought every battle well, with wry, dry, sly, pithy, ever-insightful, and piercing humor. This last battle was no different; John was an iconoclast's iconoclast to the last,” Sloane said. “In a while, after the sadness and grief passes, let's always recall with a wry smile to our faces when we think of him! John's bottomless spirit can now soar free into eternity.”