Holding simultaneous celebrations for two major milestones at Chilliwack General Hospital can be a bit tricky to coordinate.
But event organizers accomplished the feat on Friday morning, which included activities like burying a time capsule and unveiling new artwork by local Sto:lo artists.
Celebrations were underway in the ER seating area to trumpet both the $35-million redevelopment and the hospital’s 100th anniversary.
“The new and renovated facilities will help us continue to meet the growing health care needs of Chilliwack and its surrounding communities,” said Arden Krystal, Fraser Health VP of Clinical Operations.
The past was contrasted with the future as Krystal noted the first hospital was built in 1911 for only $10,000 with no debt.
“It had 12 beds, and at the time Chilliwack’s population was between 1,500 and 2,000 people,” she said. “Today this hospital has 138 beds, and Chilliwack’s population was grown to more than 86,000 residents.”
Upgraded facilities include a new lab, lobby and emergency room, as well as renovated areas like ambulatory care, cardiopulmonary, medical day care, pediatric offices and a new education room.
“This will allow for future capacity growth and technological advances, for example there is a vacant, shelled-in space on the second floor of emergency,” Krystal said.
Funding partners were also on hand, like the Fraser Valley Regional Hospital District and the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, which committed to providing $30-million and $5-million respectively, as well as reps from Fraser Health, Chilliwack Hospital Auxiliary and Chilliwack Hospital Service League.
Chilliwack MLA John Les said it was “marvelous” how the project and ambitious fundraising plan came together, with the community rallying to contribute with private donations to FVHCF.
“I tip my hat to you,” he told.
Chilliwack-Hope MLA Barry Penner quipped that he and his expectant wife, Daris, would soon be “spending more quality time” in the maternity ward.
“Any moment now in fact,” he said, not realizing that he’d be back at CGH that night with the missus, as well as the next.
Penner thanked the main agencies involved in the redevelopment, but also offered appreciation for “those who led the private fundraising effort,” which was a big challenge for community members.
“It’s a great legacy,” Penner said. “This is definitely an investment that’s needed, and one we’ll all be grateful for.”
Acting Mayor Diane Janzen thanked the hard work of fundraising reps, who toiled tirelessly for donations “during an economic recession.”
She reminded guests that 100 years ago health officials would put mercury on a scrape and recommend menthol cigarettes to soothe bronchitis.
“You’ve come a long way baby,” she quipped, quoting the old cigarette advertising tag-line. “That’s where we are.”