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Dr. Ovando, 1923-2008
Long-time Sunny Hills resident implanted first pacemaker in Orange County, 1964. Known for kindness.

 

Thursday, November 6, 2008
Orange County pacemaker pioneer, Ovando, dies
Physician implanted the first heart-saving device in O.C. in 1964.
By BARBARA GIASONE
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

FULLERTON Dr. Paul Ovando, a pioneering thoracic-cardiovascular surgeon who implanted the first pacemaker in Orange County in 1964 and created the Asthma Olympics, died at his home Tuesday. He was 85.

Services are set for 10:30 a.m. Monday at St. Juliana Falconieri Catholic Church, 1320 N. Acacia Ave., in Fullerton.
Ovando started his practice and work with St. Jude Hospital in 1959 when he and his wife, Charlotte, moved to Fullerton. He discovered the hospital did not have an intensive care unit needed for post-operative thoracic patients. Recovering patients had to hire nurses from a registry to take care of them after surgery.

The young doctor paid for the nurses if his patients couldn't afford the service.

He also purchased cardiac pacemakers for patients in the early 1960s before insurance companies started covering the new technology. At the time, only 200 people in the nation had the heart-saving devices.
Later, Ovando helped open the hospital's intensive care unit and donated his time to train the unit's nurses.

He established the hospital's respiratory care unit in 1968, and paid for patients' ventilators.

He borrowed $100,000 in 1972 to buy needed equipment to launch St. Jude's open heart program.
In 1986, Ovando introduced laser surgery to the medical center.

For his pioneering work with pacemakers, Ovando received St. Jude's first Distinguished Physician Award in 1995.

"He was one of the few physicians who still made house calls in the 1990s, and if his patients couldn't pay him, he would tell them that a cup of coffee and doughnut was payment in full," his son-in-law, Thomas Clanin, said.

The Ovandos led an active social life – and taught classes at St. Juliana School where their two daughters attended.

While serving on the Lung Association Board, Paul Ovando created the Asthma Olympics in North Orange County for children with bronchial problems. He also trained firefighters to work with the children through the association's Open Airways program.

He retired from practice in 2000. Charlotte Ovando died last year.

In addition to his daughters, Michele Hamilton and Lynn Clanin, he is survived by four grandchildren.

Donations in Ovando's memory may be made in his name to St. Jude Medical Center Memorial Fund/Asthma Education, 101 E. Valencia Mesa Drive, Fullerton, CA. 92835.

 

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From the Register on November 15, 2008 at 10:20 AM said:

November 12, 2008
I too have wonderful memories of working with Dr Ovando, and his former partner Dr Edwards and always with Chris by their side.
I always think of him wearing his red jacket to the xmas parties at PL and how he loved to dance. He was so special and will always be remembered so fondly.
Charlene Wilson (Fullerton, CA)
More Orange County Register tributes on November 10, 2008 at 3:28 PM said:

1. November 10, 2008 -- My condolences to Dr. Ovando's family. It is apparent that you knew what a gem you had as a father, a surgeon and a humanitarian.

I recall working in Placentia Linda Hospital in the late 1970's and witnessing the energy Dr. Ovando brought to every place he entered.

He was always a gentleman, always a teacher, always passionate about his every day work, always humble.

I never knew how many wonderful things he was involved with until reading his obituary and tributes in this guest book.

His was a life worth living and many of us reaped blessings from him.
Marilyn Franchini (Chino Hills, CA)

2. November 9, 2008 -- My sincere condolences. Dr. Ovando operated on my mom in the late '60's. He was always kind and caring. -- Leslie Grimes (Irvine, CA)

3. November 9, 2008 -- I knew Dr. O through a business association, and came to know him as the caring, generous, humble man he was. He was so proud of his daughters and his love for Charlotte was boundless. He will always hold a very special place in my heart and today he holds a special place in Heaven with her. --- Cathy Patterson (Cathedral City)

4. November 9, 2008 --- Dr. Ovando had an excellent reputation as a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon. He was a good example for all of us. My condolences. JPThomassen MD, surgeon, Orange County, 1960-1994 -- JPaul Thomassen (Reno,, NV)

5. November 9, 2008 -- Dear Lynn, ,Just a note to say we are all so sorry that you lost your beloved,great Dad....We had so many pleasent memories many years ago ...Bobby Sox..Hawaii etc.,He was so very special as was your dear Mom....Love and prayers ,The St. John Family ,John ,Rosemary ,Pati, John Jr, Carol and Peter -- Carol Wardwell (Brea, CA)
From the OC Register Guest Book on November 9, 2008 at 6:35 AM said:

November 8, 2008
Dr. Ovando set an example that every young doctor should emulate. He was kind and compassionate and practiced medicine with equal amounts of vision, comfort, skill and bedside manner.
Anne La Jeunesse (El Segundo, CA)
From the OC Register Guest Book on November 9, 2008 at 6:33 AM said:

November 8, 2008
My deepest condolences for your loss. Dr. O, cared for my grandmother through her stomach cancer in 1962. She was a simple mexican woman married to a caretaker of an orange grove. Dr. O treated her like she was a queen. As she faded to 75 pounds he once picked her up and carried her to her bed. I cry when I think of the kindness he showed this simple woman. After her death he cared for my grandfather and implanted a pacemaker in this poor farmer. He later took him to conferences to show the miracle of the pacemaker in this old man.
A few years ago when my Uncle was in St Jude near his death, we ran into Dr. O in the lobby, he came and comforted my Aunt and promptly went into see him to see if there was anything he could do. It meant the world to my Aunt and Uncle who have both passed since then. God bless your family. Your father will be in my prayers.
-- Linda Huseby (nee Elliott), Seattle, WA

Steve Lowe, '62 on November 7, 2008 at 1:33 PM said:

Dr. and Mrs Ovando were very close friends to my parents.
We lived across the street from each other.

They were exceptional people, warm and caring. Dr. Ovando was a compassionate physician.

I have not seen him for many years but I pause with his
memory and wish him a good journey.

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One tribute among hundreds to Dr. Ovando:

COPD Advocate
c/o COPD International.com

March 4, 1999

Paul J. Ovando, M.D.
301 W. Bastanchury Rd. #110
Fullerton, CA 92835

RE: "All-Star Doctor" Designation

Dear Dr. Ovando:

I am volunteer coordinator and web master for a group of patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease who correspond regularly on the Internet, from across the United States, Canada, and many other countries around the world.

Though the specifics of our diseases vary, we share the extraordinarily similar experience of our often-lengthy searches for a doctor whose skills in applying the science of medicine are matched by his mastery of the art of ministering to the emotional and psychological needs of his patients. We unanimously applaud those exceptional doctors who work with their patients and encourage them to gain the knowledge and find the strength to more successfully manage their diseases and enjoy a higher quality of life. We especially endorse an aggressive course of treatment that includes a multi disciplinary pulmonary rehabilitation (or "wellness) program.

It is a pleasure to advise that, upon my personal recommendation, as one of your patients, we have bestowed upon you the designation, "All-Star Doctor," and included your name in the "SOB Hall of Fame," our humble web site directory of doctors who we believe deserve very special recognition. We hope you will accept this "award" as a gesture of genuine respect and gratitude for the service you so generously render.

A list of our membership is available at our web site address, below.

With warmest regards,

Bill Horden, Coordinating Volunteer