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Veterans Continue Their Service to Others at Ozarks Medical Center, Part 1 of 9

Veterans continue their service to others at Ozarks Medical Center

Ozarks Medical Center (OMC) is a system of care encompassing a 114-bed acute care hospital, 8 primary care and 15 specialty clinics, along with complete rehabilitation and home care services. OMC is a not-for-profit medical referral center with over 1100 employees, serving an 8-county area in south central Missouri and north central Arkansas. OMC would like to recognize a few of our veterans that came forward to be interviewed. We appreciate all that they have done for our country and applaud all veterans for their service.

Part 1 of 9.

Jeffery Jones, Vice President of Clinic Operations

After serving our country for over 29 years, Jeff Jones and his family moved to West Plains to be closer to family members in Waynesville, Springfield and Poplar Bluff. Jones is a native of Poplar Bluff. Although he had planned to enjoy retirement, when Jones saw the ad for VP of Clinic Operations at Ozarks Medical Center, he saw it as a wonderful opportunity to use his past experience and education to serve the community.

Initially Jones chose the military as a way to afford college and discover what he really wanted to do with his life. Out of high school he was accepted to Washington University in St. Louis, but his family simply didn’t have the resources to send him to college. “I knew I wanted to do something in medicine, but I wasn’t really sure what, so I went and spoke with the local Navy Recruiter, two months later I was in boot camp” Jones said.

Jones enlisted in the Navy in 1982 and served six years as a Hospital Corpsman and Nuclear Medicine Technologist. He was honorably discharged in 1988. “Enlisting in the Navy provided me with a wonderful opportunity to learn what careers were available in healthcare, and the Navy provided me with a great education as well.” While serving in the Navy, Jones earned his Associate degree in Nuclear Medicine from George Washington University in Washington D.C. and went on to take advantage of a Navy program that paid 90% of his tuition to obtain his Bachelor of Science degree in Healthcare Management from Southern Illinois University.

After working in a large hospital in Ohio as the Director of Cat Scan, Ultrasound and Nuclear Medicine for two years, Jones applied for a commission in the United States Air Force as a Medical Service Corps Officer (Healthcare Administrator). He was accepted and in 1990, he began his 23 years of service in the Air Force. Jones held a variety of posts during his service: Director of Contingency Planning, Columbus AFB, Mississippi; Director of Personnel, US Air Force Academy Hospital; Administrator of US Air Force Academy Cadet Clinic; Chief Financial Officer, Elmendorf AFB Hospital, Anchorage, Alaska; Health Services Administration Instructor, Air Force School of Health Sciences, Wichita Falls, Texas; Associate Administrator at Air Force Space Command, Colorado Springs, Colorado; Squadron Commander, Administrator and Chief Operating Officer, Vance AFB Clinic, Enid, Oklahoma; Hospital Administrator, Medical Support Commander, and J1 for Task Force Med., Bagram AFB, Afghanistan; Deputy Administrator at Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB Ohio; Administrator and Chief Operating Officer at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and the VA/Department of Defense Hospital, Anchorage, Alaska; and Chief Executive Officer at Laughlin AFB, Del Rio, Texas.

While in the Air Force, Jones earned his Master degree in Health Administration from the University of Missouri. And along the way he earned numerous decorations to include, but not limited to the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (with 7 oak leaf clusters), Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal. After serving a combined 29 year and 9 months in uniform he retired from the Air Force as a Colonel on November 1, 2013.

Through all of his service, Jones said the most difficult and most rewarding assignment was the one in Afghanistan. “When I initially walked into our hospital at Bagram it was a series of plywood structures. When I left, almost 6 months later, we were treating patients in a new facility designated as a Level 2 Trauma Center,” Jones said. “The hardest part was being away from family, but it was extremely rewarding to know I was a part of ensuring our troops and our allies had state-of-the-art quality care available to them in the event they needed it.”

“I truly like helping people. Whether it is in the Military or now at OMC, being a healthcare administrator gives me the opportunity to touch as many lives as possible in a positive way,” Jones said. “In the military, my job was to keep the men and women that serve this country mentally, physically, and spiritually well so they could defend our country if called upon to do so. And now although my goals aren’t quite the same I feel they are just as important in that our team at OMC strives to make sure we have an overall healthy community for our children and our children’s children to grow up in.”

Jones and wife, Jennifer of 33 years, have six children and six grandchildren. Drew had served in the Army as a combat medic, and now he’s a car salesman in Texas. Travis served six years in the Navy and is currently a policeman in Wichita Falls, Texas. Tori farms with her husband in Enid, Oklahoma. Samantha is a political science major at University of Missouri. Carlie is a senior at West Plains High School and has already enlisted in the Air Force in their delayed entry program. And Noah is in sixth grade at Junction Hill School.

As VP of Clinic Operations at Ozarks Medical Center, Jones leads a team of four directors and seven managers. This team oversees 23 OMC clinics (13 specialty and 8 rural) along with Behavioral Health Care and the Cancer Treatment Center. These clinics provide access to care for the roughly 135,000 residents in the eight counties served by OMC, with a combined average of 425 patient visits each day.

Shortly after Vice President Dick Cheney left Bagram on February 27th 2007, at 10am local time a suicide bomber attacked one of the base’s outer gates killing 23 and injuring 20 others. In the background of this photo you can see a very busy emergency department. In the foreground, pictured on the right is Hospital Commander Colonel Bart Iddins, on the left is Chief Nurse Lt. Colonel Chris Hale-Pierce, and pictured in the middle, the Hospital Administrator Lt. Colonel Jeff Jones discuss how to best utilize their limited resources.

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