The Country Doctor
In some towns, a single doctor can change the health experience of an entire community.
In Simi Valley, Jonathan Kurohara has been that doctor. He has cared for a generation of friends and neighbors, watching over them when they get sick and celebrating their successes when they thrive. He has delivered babies and then cared for those children into adulthood.
His knowledge of his patients goes beyond what’s written on a chart. He knows their families, their interests and their social lives. He has grown old with his patients.
“I came to Simi Valley in 1987 to be a country doctor,” Dr. Kurohara said. “I feel like I’ve helped to take care of a community.”
Dr. Kurohara has for 33 years practiced at Adventist Health Physicians Network, offering whole-person care to his community. For just as long, he has volunteered his time as medical director at the Free Clinic of Simi Valley, providing that same care to those in need.
Simi Valley was a different town when Dr. Kurohara arrived. He practiced all aspects of medicine in the rural valley of less than 95,000. Some days he would see patients in his office and visit others in the hospital. On unpredictable days, a pregnant patient would go into labor and suddenly require his full attention.
His proudest moment came after one of those hard deliveries during his first year in practice. He had known the family prior to the mother getting pregnant and attended their wedding.
“Them having that baby was like being at ground zero of a nuclear explosion of happiness,” Dr. Kurohara shared. But he has also experienced lows. The father of that same baby died years later, a victim of depression and substance abuse. Dr. Kurohara still cares for the mother, who has since moved out of state.
“There’s a bond there, and you take care of them differently than other patients because you’ve been through so much together,” Dr. Kurohara said.
At the free clinic, Dr. Kurohara helps teach high school and college-aged volunteers the marvels of medicine. “It’s like opening up a whole new world for them,” he said, smiling. “We teach them how a doctor thinks and what we look for when we examine patients. You can see the light in their eyes discovering what medicine is all about.”
In several cases, he has helped inspire those students to go to medical school and make an impact in their community, the same way he has.
“It’s love of your fellow human being,” Dr. Kurohara said. “It’s just caring for another person. That’s what the world needs more of today.”