New Wi-Fi connects WCGH patients and visitors

Port Alberni Patients and visitors at West Coast General Hospital can stay connected via free Wi-Fi, a new services supported by the West Coast General Hospital Foundation. 

In April 2018, Lake Cowichan resident, Sarah Gibson, started a petition asking Island Health to introduce free public Wi-Fi for patients. Gibson, who lives with Cystic Fibrosis, found the financial burden of using her data plan while she’s in the hospital to stay connected with family, friends and her CF support group was an added stress.

“I would like to thank Sarah for creating awareness on the benefits of publicly-accessible Wi-Fi at hospitals,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “Her efforts led us to develop a creative solution to provide free Wi-Fi at West Coast General Hospital. There are many critically important demands in our health-care system; however, when we engage our auxiliaries and foundations we can deliver on patient-centric amenities like Wi-Fi that enhance medical services and programs and help patients stay more connected.” 

“This is great news! I would like to thank all of the foundations and auxiliaries who stepped up to fund this service,” said Island Health patient Sarah Gibson. “While staying connected through Wi-Fi may not be a medical service, I know from experience, that having those connections outside the hospital can really help in healing and recovery.”

Patients and visitors can access the new service by searching for and connecting to the wireless network “IslandHealthGuest”. Free public Wi-Fi will support basic internet browsing, but not the large bandwidths associated with high-definition video streaming. The service began on September 6, 2018.

“Patients and visitors appreciate being able to stay connected to their families, friends and work,” said Foundation Business Director Chris Francey. “We’re very happy to be able to fund this service at West Coast General Hospital.”

The Foundation has committed to pay the operating cost for public Wi-Fi, estimated to be up to $2,000 annually. Island Health will provide the service within the hospital’s existing Wi-Fi system, without adding any new wireless signals or access points.

“We’re very grateful to the Foundation for supporting this program because many of our patients travel to be here, and this service will help them more easily stay connected to their support network,” said Kelly McColm, Interim Site Manager at WCGH.  

WCGH is one of five Island Health hospitals to introduce public Wi-Fi this month. With the support of their local Foundations or Auxiliaries; Victoria General Hospital, Royal Jubilee Hospital, Cowichan District Hospital and Lady Minto Hospital are the latest hospitals to offer this service. Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s public Wi-Fi launched in June, and the North Island Hospital campuses in Campbell River and Comox included Wi-Fi when they opened in 2017.

About The West Coast General Hospital Foundation
The West Coast General Hospital Foundation is a key philanthropic partner of the West Coast General Hospital. Over its 28 years of operation the Foundation has raised over $4,000,000 to purchase or assist in the purchase of equipment for WCGH.

About West Coast General Hospital
With more than 400 employees 40 affiliated care providers and nearly 100 volunteers, WCGH provides care to the people of the Alberni Valley and West Coast.

About Island Health

Island Health, one of six health jurisdictions in British Columbia, provides health care and support services to more than 765,000 people on Vancouver Island, the islands in the Salish Sea and the Johnstone Strait, and mainland communities north of Powell River.

With more than 20,000 staff, 1,900 physician partners, 6,000 volunteers, and the dedicated support of foundations and auxiliaries, Island Health delivers a broad range of health services, including: public health services, primary health care, home and community care, mental health and addictions services, acute care in hospitals, and much more across a huge, geographically diverse region.

Media Inquiries:
Cheryl Bloxham