Health

Dr. Wes Plinke — Just Call Him ‘Doc’

Wes Plinke, MD, marvels at the changes he’s seen both in healthcare and in Simi Valley in the past 38 years.

Some names are permanently woven into the lore of a community. For Simi Valley, one of those names surely must be family medicine physician Wes Plinke, MD.

Even at age 92 and in his 10th year of retirement, Dr. Plinke is an avid reader who remains keenly interested in topics related to healthcare. In fact, at the assisted living facility where he resides, the staff enjoys calling him “Doc,” just as his receptionist and staff did when he was in practice.

Dr. Plinke is troubled by the high cost of malpractice insurance and is concerned about other issues related to the healthcare industry, especially since one of his three sons is an Emergency Department physician in Tennessee. Nevertheless, he is optimistic about the future of healthcare in Simi Valley and is encouraged by the growth of Simi Valley Hospital, which is located just down the street from his residence.

“It’s really something,” Dr. Plinke said of the new Patient Care Tower construction project at Simi Valley Hospital. “I’m really excited to read that it will have private care rooms.”

A Healer at Heart

Growing up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Dr. Plinke always knew he wanted to be a physician. After graduating from medical school at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, his first encounter with family medicine was serving the healthcare needs of the residents of Hickory, Mississippi, population 800.

In 1967, Dr. Plinke moved to Simi Valley as a result of his connections with Loma Linda University, which was an Adventist organization, just as the recently opened Simi Valley Community Hospital was. Soon, Dr. Plinke met Dr. J.O. Jones, one of the founders of the hospital — which was later renamed Simi Valley Hospital. The two formed a business partnership and continued to work together for a quarter of a century.

“I couldn’t have had a better partner,” Plinke said of Dr. Jones. “In the 25 years we practiced medicine together, I never had an argument with him. He was a wonderful man and a very compassionate physician.”

During his time at Simi Valley Hospital, Dr. Plinke served on the medical education, family medicine and quality assurance committees. He chaired the latter group in 1983 and 1984. He also served in the U.S. Air Force, where he worked as an outpatient clinic physician at Edwards Air Force Base near Lancaster, California.

A Life in Review

Today, Dr. Plinke marvels over the area’s growth, recalling the orange groves in Simi and the walnut groves in Moorpark. He also remembers when there were only about 3,700 residents in Simi and two intersections with signal lights — at Los Angeles Avenue and Tapo Canyon Road, and Los Angeles Avenue and Sycamore Drive.

But at the center of his memories are his years serving the community through his affiliation with Simi Valley Hospital. Looking back on his days practicing medicine, Dr. Plinke said, “I enjoyed my work at the hospital [SVH] more than anywhere else.”

June 2005