Eric Pianalto has had the 2019 date of Catfish, Corndogs and Cornhole circled in his calendar for a year.
“My partner and I hit a buzz saw last year after winning six straight games, and we are playing for redemption!! Anything short of a championship may ruin my year,” he jokes.
Catfish, Corndogs and Cornhole will be from noon to 5 p.m. June 14 on the north field of Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas in Rogers, and all proceeds benefit Mercy Health Foundation. In this event, a two-person team can participate and support the hospital for as little as $50 if registered in advance ($60 for day of registration), so it is a great way to connect with a much larger group of people interested in contributing to the hospital, Eric adds. Community members can also purchase a meal ticket for $10 if they want to attend the event but don’t want to play in the cornhole tournament.
Eric serves as president of Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas, and in May, he celebrated 25 years of service with the Mercy Health system, noting he has spent about half of those years in Northwest Arkansas. Mercy includes more than 40 hospitals, 900 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 45,000 co-workers and 2,400 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, according to www.mercy.net.
“I joined Mercy in 1994 for an opportunity to grow my career, and it appeared at the time to be just another job that paid the bills. I have stayed at Mercy for 25 years because it is so much more than a job – it is truly a gift to be able to serve a community in an impactful way,” he says. “Mercy Hospital is such a special place because of the heart of our 2,500 co-workers. It is that heart of service to the one patient in front of them in the moment care is needed the most that inspires me. Watching our team take care of people is the most gratifying part of my role.”
He became hospital president in August 2013 and works closely with Mercy Clinic President Dr. Steve Goss to assure that they are providing the best medical care in the country.
There is no such thing as a “typical day” for Eric. He can encounter hundreds of disparate joys and challenges on any given day.
“We are also very active in the community and believe it is our obligation to be a good partner with all the entities and citizens in the area that we serve. I can in one moment be in a meeting with one of our great community philanthropists, having a dialogue about their desire to contribute to Mercy to expand the region’s health care, and in the next moment be working with our team to solve problems for the ever-growing needs of our patients. There is never a dull moment.”
Earlier this year, Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas was named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals by IBM Watson Health.
“We are excited about the award and are thankful for our doctors, nurses, and staff who so deserve to be recognized for the talents and gifts that led to being named a Top 100 Hospital, but for me it is simply affirmation that we are on the right track and that the work ahead of us is to continue to get better every day!” Eric says. “Our charge for the past five years was to transform a great community hospital into one of the nation’s best hospitals. The steps to get there were never about recognition; it was about assuring that our growing community could receive care at a local institution that was the best that could be offered in the a country.”
Eric noted two dates for the community to save in their calendars: Sept. 13 and Oct. 21. A Mercy Springdale facility will open Sept. 13 and provide a broad range of services like an emergency department, imaging and 20 physicians of different specialties. The new tower on Mercy’s main campus in Rogers will open Oct. 21. (3W will feature more details on these openings in future blog posts.)
When he’s not working, Eric enjoys camping, traveling and playing golf. Eric has lived in Tontitown for 41 years, but his roots in the town go back more than 120 years. His grandfather (nonno) came to the United States in 1895 from Italy when he was 7 years old and was an original settler of Tontitown in 1898. Eric’s grandfather and grandmother (nonna) had 13 children, which provided him with more than 70 first cousins.
“I really am related to everyone with a connection to Tontitown.”
In his immediate family, Eric and his wife Dawn just celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary, and they have three daughters.
We asked Eric 13 questions to find out a little more about this fun hospital president:
13 with 3W
- Favorite cocktail? A really good Old Fashioned
- Bacon or sausage? Why choose? Both please.
- Early bird or night owl? Both. For most of my life, I have not required much sleep.
- Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla
- Best trip you’ve ever taken? Two weeks in Italy
- Summer or winter? Give me the heat!!
- Favorite movie of all time? Rocky. Rocky. Rocky.
- Adventurous or cautious? Adventurous, though my body doesn’t support that as well as it once did.
- Football or basketball? Football, with baseball being a close second
- Call or text? Prefer call
- Beach or mountains? Beach
- Cat or dog? Sorry to the animal lovers, I have bad allergies so neither
- What makes you smile the most? When my daughters still hold my hand like they did when they were little
Join Eric at Catfish, Corndogs and Cornhole by registering for the event at www.catfishcorndogsandcornhole.com. For more information about Mercy, visit Mercy’s Instagram @follow_mercy, Mercy’s Facebook page or www.mercy.net.