Newly expanded emergency department at West Coast General Hospital ready for patients

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).

“The opening of this emergency department marks a great day for the people of Port Alberni and the surrounding region, providing people increased access to the emergency health services they need close to home,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Ensuring that people have timely access to health care in their communities continues to be a top priority. It is through partnerships with Island Health Authority, the WCGH Foundation, and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional Hospital District, and through collaboration with First Nations that this expansion is made possible.” 

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.”  

“As a long-time Tofino resident, I know how important this expansion is, these developments will offer patients more examination beds, improved facilities, and greater peace of mind,” said Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim.  “This expansion of emergency health services means that people throughout the region will have increased access to health care professionals and facilities.”  

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.

What people are saying about the newly expanded emergency department at WCGH:

Dr. Robert O’Dwyer, president and Ellen Brown Everard, vice-president, West Coast
General Hospital Foundation

“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.” 

John Jack, vice chair, Alberni Clayoquot Regional Hospital District

“The Regional District is the funding arm for the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional Hospital District, and we are excited to celebrate the completion of this project. West Coast General Hospital is an important facility for our entire region, and it is essential that we create space that can better support care providers as they meet the changing needs of those community members that are seeking service.” 

Ken Watts, Elected Chief, Tseshaht First Nation

“Tseshaht First Nation would like to recognize all those who contributed to improving the West Coast General Hospital emergency room in our territory. We know that healthcare can be challenging and we still have work to do on our shared journey to improve the quality of care for not only indigenous patients, but all clients. These important emergency room improvements at WCGH are important steps forward as we commit to working hand-in-hand together, as one."

Vanessa Charlong, Health Director, Hupačasath First Nation

“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.”