Honoring a Pioneer: Before There Was a Simi Valley Hospital, There Was a Dr. J.O. Jones

A few days before Simi Valley Hospital opened in August 1965, 19 of the hospital’s 28-member medical staff met to organize themselves. Elected to lead the medical staff in its first years were (pictured above) J.O. Jones, president; Elvin Gaines, vice president; and Herbert Harder, secretary.

Before there was a hospital located in the picturesque town we now call Simi Valley, there was John Owsley Jones, an unassuming and big-hearted man who advanced modern medical care in our community.

Affectionately known as J.O. among his colleagues, patients and friends, Dr. Jones worked with various physicians throughout Ventura County before starting his own practice in Simi Valley in 1949. He charged fees of $3 for an office visit and $5 for a house call. Not always able to collect full payment from his patients with financial challenges, Dr. Jones graciously accepted whatever patients could afford to give.

By 1952, Dr. Jones had built a new office and a home at the corner of School Street and Deodora. His wife, Bernice, assisted with the day-to-day duties of his practice.

With no hospital in the immediate area, Dr. Jones was a very busy man as he provided healthcare for a growing community. It was common for him to make numerous trips — sometimes two or three a day — to hospitals in Port Hueneme, Oxnard and Glendale to care for his patients and perform surgeries.

Dr. Jones enlisted the support of an energetic and idealistic young doctor named Elvin Gaines, who assisted with Dr. Jones’ practice for a year before starting his own medical practice. Eventually, Dr. Wesley Plinke joined the Jones practice, and the two doctors teamed up to conscientiously and skillfully serve the healthcare needs of their community for years to come.

The North Sycamore Drive area of Simi Valley was transforming from rural to suburban in the mid-1960s when J.O. Jones, Elvin Gaines and other local physicians began admitting patients to Simi Valley Hospital, the city’s first hospital. Along with leading the charge to build the hospital, Dr. Jones donated the land for the Main Campus building, in the center of the photo above.

As the area continued to experience exceptional growth in the early 1960s, Dr. Jones recognized the need for a hospital in Simi Valley. A member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, he spearheaded an effort to build a local hospital by leading a group of activists who approached the Southern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists for support and funding. The Conference accepted the challenge and implemented plans to build Simi Valley Community Hospital, which was completed in 1965.

Dr. Jones continued to practice medicine in Simi Valley into his early 80s. Simi Valley Hospital has recognized Dr. Jones’ vision and leadership in a number of ways throughout the years, including naming Jones Way, a street adjacent to the hospital, in his honor.

“We appreciate this wonderful, altruistic physician for serving our community so well for many decades and for realizing his bold vision of a community hospital” said Margaret Peterson, PhD, president and CEO of Simi Valley Hospital. “Recollections of Dr. Jones’ dedication and determined spirit continue to inspire us as we strive to ensure the future of optimal quality healthcare in Simi Valley with the completion of the new Patient Care Tower.”

Spring 2005