St. John’s Hospitals: Our Purpose is Health. Our Spirit is Strong.

In September 2011, St. John’s Hospitals honored the arrival of the Sisters of Mercy to Oxnard to start a hospital. The Sisters came at the request of Reverend Laubacher, a local religious leader who in 1911 recognized that vital healthcare services were needed in Oxnard. In the spring of 2012, we recognized another major milestone in our hospital’s history as we celebrated the centennial of St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard. While we celebrate these two momentous occassions, we begin the next century with a new identity dedicated to the strength of the human spirit.

St. John’s Regional Medical Center Through the Years

Our facility has transitioned several times since the hospital opened in 1912 to accommodate for the increasing patient population. After only a few short years as a small, six-room wooden structure, St. John’s opened a 25-bed hospital in 1915. According to Rev. Laubacher, “The doors of this building are thrown open to the sick and suffering, regardless of creed or color.” By 1952, the hospital had again outgrown its building, so a third hospital with 75 beds was opened to serve the booming post-war population. Finally, St. John’s Regional Medical Center opened in its current location in 1992. The 365,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art medical center is where St. John’s in Oxnard is located today.


100 Years: A Legacy of Healing

Over the past 100 years, St. John’s has celebrated many milestones, some of which include:

1831: Irish heiress Catherine McAuley begins caring for poor women and children in Dublin, Ireland in 1827. To ensure her mission endures, Catherine founds the Sisters of Mercy in 1831.

1911: Reverend John Laubacher, pastor of Santa Clara Parish, invites the Sisters of Mercy to the growing community of Oxnard to help start a hospital. A delegation led by J.A. Driffel, manager of the Sugar Beet Factory, welcomes the Sisters when they arrive from San Diego. The Sisters collaborate with local ranchers, farmers, doctors, and business leaders to make the hospital a reality. The hospital is named after Rev. Laubacher’s patron saint, St. John the Evangelist.

1912: Rancher John Borchard and his family donate nine acres of land for the hospital and $20,000 to perpetually endow two beds for the poor. The first hospital is a green, six-room wooden building where the Sisters care for patients while funds are raised and a larger building is constructed. Oxnard pioneers John Borchard, J.A. Driffill, C.J. Elliott, Charles Donlon, W. H. Lathrop, L. Lehmann, and A. Levy build the temporary structure. Sister Mary Gabriel Gardiner from El Centro, California serves as the hospital’s first administrator.

1914: Dr. William R. Livingston introduces “Twilight Sleep” for delivering babies. Patients are injected with morphine and an amnesia-inducing drug to lessen the pain and erase all memory of it. Expectant mothers come from afar to experience “painless childbirth.” Dr. Livingston’s first delivery using this method is the grandson of John Borchard.

1915: Bishop Thomas J. Conaty blesses and dedicates St. John’s second hospital, a 25-bed building that costs $76,072 to construct. Rev. Laubacher declares that, “The doors of this building are thrown open to the sick and suffering, regardless of creed or color.”

1927: The American College of Surgeons grants St. John’s standardization approval in recognition of its excellent patient care.

1928: Statue of St. John the Evangelist Blessed.

1936: Modern X-Ray Department put into operation.

1940: New maternity ward opens.

1940: St. John’s raises chickens and vegetables to feed patients.

1941 – 43: Navy orderlies supplement nursing staff.

1950: John Maulhardt heads hospital campaign committee.

1952: Humanitarians organized to raise needed funds.

1952: Cardinal James Francis McIntyre dedicates the third St. John’s hospital, a two-story, 75-bed facility to serve Oxnard’s booming post-war population.

1952: The Humanitarians Gift Society and the St. John’s Auxiliary form to help raise funds for the hospital through social events and personal donations and to promote volunteerism.

1957: St. John’s opens its own in-house pharmacy. Prior to this, hospital staff had to procure medications for patients from a local pharmacy.

1958: The hospital installs a broadcasting console, the first of its kind in the area, allowing patients to watch television programs from their beds and piping music throughout the hospital.

1960: Hollywood actress Loretta Young portrays Sister Ann in the television show Faith, Hope and Mr. Flaherty. Ms. Young was a patient at St. John’s in the 1950s and bases her fictional TV character on Sister Mary Rose, the hospital’s director of nursing.

1965: Dr. Raymond Ligouri establishes the hospital’s Coronary Care Unit, the first CCU in Ventura County and the third in Southern California.

1972: St. John’s unveils an Open Heart Surgery Unit, and later performs the first open-heart surgery in Ventura County.

1976: Construction begins on a three-story ancillary building housing a new emergency room, nuclear medicine department, cardiovascular laboratory, intensive care unit, coronary care unit, and cafeteria (as well as a new boiler and laundry rooms).

1976: The Sisters of Mercy continue to provide hands-on patient care and spiritual guidance, and begin to take on hospital administration duties as well.

1984: St. John’s launches a paramedic training program in cooperation with the Oxnard Ambulance Service. Paramedics are trained to administer emergency medical treatment while maintaining radio contact with intensive care nurses and ER physicians.

1985: Sr. Carmen Rodriguez establishes St. John’s Community Outreach Program (known today as Health Ministries) to serve the community’s disadvantaged and to advocate on their behalf.

1986: St. John’s Regional Medical Center becomes one of the twelve original hospitals to form Catholic Healthcare West, a System of hospitals located in California, Arizona and Nevada.

1986: St. John’s installs a Catheterization Lab.

1991: The Golden Classics service group forms and adopts the motto “Still Serving.” Established to help transition hospital employees into retirement, this group offers programs and activities to sustain friendships and keep retirees informed of hospital happenings.

1992: Cardinal Roger Mahony dedicates and blesses the fourth St. John’s hospital, a more centrally located, 365,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art medical center. Specially designed “modular transport vehicles” transport patients from the old facility on F Street to the new site.

1992: The hospital launches the Ulticare Information System, allowing caregivers to access patient information via computer terminals throughout the hospital. An electronic mail system for hospital staff soon follows.

1993: St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard merges with St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo, expanding its reach to serve the healthcare needs of these two growing cities and beyond.

1995: St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital opens a Hyperbaric Oxygen and Wound Healing Center, the only hospital-based facility of its kind in Ventura County.

1996: St. John’s Cancer Center of Ventura County opens, offering a wide array of free support groups and services for cancer patients and their families.

1997: St. John’s hospitals join Catholic Healthcare West hospitals in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County to form CHW Central Coast.

2005: The hospitals introduce Comfort Care Suites, a peaceful home-like setting with full amenities for palliative care patients and their families.

2006: In a report released by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, St. John’s Regional Medical Center earns a rating of “Better” in the first mandatory “California Report on Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery 2003 Hospital Data.” St. John’s is one of only four hospitals in California, and the only one in Ventura County, to earn this designation.

2006: St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital installs a Healing Garden, with bridges, walkways, fountains, and seating areas for patients, staff, and visitors to enjoy.

2007: St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital opens a new state-of-the-art emergency room, the first to open in Ventura County in nearly 15 years.

2008: St. John’s Pleasant Valley Imaging Center adds full-field digital mammography services, the first to do so in the Camarillo area.

2009: St. John’s Palliative Care Program is awarded the prestigious Circle of Life Recognition, an honor bestowed by the American Hospital Association.

2010: St. John’s in Oxnard adds a 128-slice computed tomography (CT) scanner to its diagnostic imaging services, making it the only hospital between Los Angeles and San Francisco to offer this revolutionary technology.

2011: St. John’s Regional Medical Center opens a Dual Purpose Cath lab for cardiac catheterizations and electrophysiology studies.

2011: Construction begins on the Hiji Family Healing Garden at St. John’s Regional Medical Center. The garden, scheduled to open in 2012, will feature walkways, fountains, and a stone labyrinth.

2012: On May 19, 2012, St. John’s Regional Medical Center celebrated it’s 100th anniversary.