Dr. Wong is First OCS Staff Physician
Is there a doctor in the house?
Well, now Oaks Christian School can answer with a resounding YES as students and staff welcome aboard Dr. Bryan Wong as the new director of medical services.
Dr. Wong picks up the mantle from Leslie Heimbuch, RN, who served as the OCS director of medical services for the last two years, and whose outstanding efforts during the COVID-19 shutdown last year were deservedly recognized. Prior to that role, Heimbuch served as an OCS staff nurse.
Dr. Wong comes to Oaks Christian after nearly two decades as a family doctor at Ventura County Medical Center (VCMC) where he did his residency. In his third year of residency, he became the chief resident. After graduating from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, he came on staff at VCMC, eventually joining the teaching faculty and in turn training young doctors in clinics and hospital settings for the next 16 years.
As the new OCS medical director, Dr. Wong will lead the nursing staff, and have oversight for school medical policies and procedures, student wellness for both day and boarding students, medical communications, work closely with the school’s social-emotional wellness counselors and athletic training staff, and assure OCS compliance with medical mandates and laws, among other responsibilities.
“The warm reception I have received from families has been such a blessing. Families value there is a physician here, dedicated to the safety of their children. But beyond that, to be able to walk with families here, not just as a doctor, but in my role as a husband and dad to three OCS students, has also reassured them. Many families have expressed gratitude and appreciation for that, and for me it is an affirmation that I am walking in God’s will to be here,” he shared.
Growing up in the San Gabriel Valley, Dr. Wong always knew he wanted to do something in a service-oriented industry, but he wasn’t exactly sure what. His great grandfather was a doctor in China, and when he enrolled in college, he started taking pre-requisites for a medical degree.
But it wasn’t the academics that led him to his life’s calling. It was personal, human interaction that cemented his focus. As a student, he had an opportunity to shadow a surgeon in Los Angeles and he marveled at the doctor’s ability to have an intimate impact on patients who were experiencing anxiety and uncertainty.
“This had a profound influence on me,” he shared.
He decided to train as a general practitioner to acquire a broad set of skills to help as many patients and ages as possible “in case God ever called me into the mission field. I felt being a general physician would be easily transferrable in many settings.”
While he did not land on the mission field long-term, he did have an opportunity as an attending physician to travel with Samaritan's Purse to a village in Ecuador, near the jungle where missionary Jim Elliot was martyred in 1956 by Huaorani warriors.
“I was willing to help support other medical missionaries that had trained in our program and were now in Ecuador full time. I went with my wife, Mary, (also on staff as a middle school Bible teacher) and our two older children who were three and six at that time. We were there to provide relief to the missionaries who needed respite,” he said.
The field God did call him to was at VCMC where he had a lasting impact.
During his tenure at VCMC, he was instrumental in several key endeavors. He was part of the planning of the building and moving of the hospital site; he helped reopen the pediatric intensive care unit which, for a while, was the only NICU in the Conejo Valley; after the Thomas Fire knocked out other psychiatric care hospitals, VCMC was the only facility treating psychiatric patients.
During COVID-19 he also practiced tele-medicine, seeing patients online for consultations, helping them deal with a lot of fear and anxiety and walking them through the next steps.
The intensity of the work and the years of spearheading successful endeavors at VCMC, led him to step away for over a year, and to seek the Lord as to what his next steps might be. While he had enjoyed professional success at VCMC, he also sensed that it was time for a change.
“Before I made that decision, I took a three-month sabbatical, which is pretty unheard of in the medical field, to reevaluate and reconsider if it was the right decision and by the end of it, I decided, yes, it was time to move on,” he said.
He was already an OCS parent and was also the coach for the boys’ beach volleyball team and well as assisting with the boys’ indoor volleyball team. When Oaks Christian started looking for a new director, the Wong family prayed to see if God was leading them to a new chapter, and he decided to pursue the opening.
As he pivots from public health to educational health, Dr. Wong is excited about the opportunities working at a school presents but is also aware the current pandemic is still fluid and holds challenges.
“There is definitely some uncertainty stepping into this new position. Not knowing what is around the corner in terms of potentially new guidelines and safety protocols and the time it takes to see if they are having an impact,” he shared. “But at the same time this is an opportunity to demonstrate to our community that the OCS family can effectively and safely do academics, arts and athletics on campus in a safe manner that allows our students to have as normal an experience as possible. We don’t want to rob them of these important formative years. And I am glad to be here to facilitate that.”