PORT ALBERNI – People in Port Alberni and surrounding communities can now access the emergency health services they need in the newly expanded emergency department at West Coast General Hospital (WCGH).
Located on the traditional territory of the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations, the emergency department at WCGH has been expanded by 244 square metres (2,626 square feet). The expansion includes three new patient exam beds, additional space for patients awaiting tests and results, the addition of a safe, secure seclusion room for patients in need of emergency mental health care, improvements to the triage and admitting area, increased clinical space, and a dedicated entrance for ambulances.
“Island Health has been working with the local First Nations communities to advance equitable access to culturally safe care by creating a hospital where every patient is treated with honour, respect and dignity,” said Leah Hollins, Island Health Board Chair. “The larger waiting area and new treatment rooms that can accommodate larger family groups were designed based on feedback provided directly by the local Indigenous partners.”
“The people of the Hupacasath First Nation are very optimistic that these upgrades to the services and facilities at WCGH will benefit not only local First Nations, but all residents of the Alberni Valley and surrounding areas. We look forward to a positive and on-going relationship with both West Coast General Hospital as well as Island Health to advance and improve health outcomes for all.” said Vanessa Charlong, Health Director of the Hupačasath First Nation.
The $6.95 million was cost shared between the provincial government ($2.55 million), WCGH Foundation ($2.40 million), the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional Hospital District ($1.70 million) and the Island Health Authority ($0.30 million).
“It is fantastic to see the completion of our expanded emergency department,” said Dr. Gregory dePape, Island Health medical director for the Alberni-Clayoquot region. “It provides our clinical team with the increased space and updated equipment we need for the delivery of safe, quality care in a modern hospital setting.”
The current WCGH opened in 2001 and has 52 inpatient beds. In 2022, the emergency department had 25,715 patient visits.
“The West Coast General Hospital Foundation is proud to be part of this improvement to the hospital, and we are so grateful for every contribution we have received. The emergency department at West Coast General Hospital has conscientious, competent and caring service providers, who have been working in an overcrowded space for many years. It is so exciting to have this eagerly anticipated upgrade to our community hospital come to fruition. Once again, the citizens of this ‘town with a heart’ have come through and helped make Port Alberni a better place to live. Our thanks to everyone involved,” said Dr. Robert O’Dwyer, president and Ellen Brown Everard, vice-president of the West Coast General Hospital Foundation.
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