Among the questions most people have about their favorite doctor is, “are they in-network for my health insurance?”

For Nels Erickson, the question about his favorite doctor was more basic. 

Where is he?

“He wasn’t hard to find on the internet,” the 74-year-old said of Blessing Health cardiologist Jeffrey Cook.

It had been more than 10 years since Dr. Cook treated Nels, a resident of Rockford, Illinois.

Where is Rockford?

 Rockford is 275 miles northeast of Quincy. Dr. Cook practiced at Rockford’s OSF St. Anthony Medical Center before joining Blessing Health.

“He’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of doctor,” Nels said of Dr. Cook.

In 2013, Nels was feeling short of breath. A visit to his pulmonologist at OSF St. Anthony Medical Center led to tests. Test results led to a referral to another OSF doctor, Dr. Cook, for a possible heart issue.

“He got me in right away and scheduled a nuclear stress test. Dr. Cook quickly determined that I had coronary artery disease,” Nels said. “I had some pretty serious blockages. One was almost 100% and a couple of other ones were close to that. Dr. Cook definitely saved my life.”

“He is the best doctor I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to a few,” Nels added with a laugh.

Fast forward 11 years

In spring 2024, Nels says he began feeling symptoms similar to those he felt in 2013 and worried they were again heart related.

“I had a good cardiac doctor that replaced Dr. Cook at OSF” he said. “But Dr. Cook set the bar pretty high. He really takes an interest in his patients. I felt like I was family. He took time to explain everything. You never felt like you were being rushed. He has great bedside manner.”

Worried about his heart, Nels tracked down Dr. Cook to Blessing Health, made an appointment, and drove more than four hours to Quincy.

“He had a big smile on his face and shook my hand,” Nels said when Dr. Cook walked into the exam room at the Blessing Health Center. “I think he was really surprised I came all that way. He is a very modest person and a humble guy.”

Dr. Cook determined Nels did not have a heart issue but a digestive problem that could be managed with over-the-counter medication. 

“I am honored by Nels’ extraordinary effort. My wife wouldn’t drive four hours to see me,” Dr. Cook said with a smile.

“You guys are very lucky to have him,” Nels concluded about Dr. Cook.