Members of Victoria General Hospital and the hospital auxiliary show off the new banner that was created to celebrate their 35th anniversary this year. The banner will be hung above the elevators on the main floor. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

From 1983 to 2018: The evolution of Victoria General Hospital

Hospital and auxiliary celebrate their 35th anniversary

March 22, 1983 was a special day for the West Shore.

Not only was it the day the Victoria General Hospital opened its doors, but it was also the day the Victoria General Hospital Auxiliary formed. This month, the two organizations will be celebrating their 35th anniversary.

“We’re super excited to be celebrating and happy that we’re still here and providing a better level of health care than we were 35 years ago,” said Sharon Parkes, interim site director with the hospital. “Our community has grown immensely with the West Shore growing … It’s a busy place.”

Originally opened in 1983 in View Royal, the hospital has since transformed into one of the busiest on Vancouver Island, serving nearly 100,000 patients last year. It continues to specialize in pediatrics and neuroscience – areas the hospital has specialized in since the beginning.

It is also the trauma centre for Vancouver Island, where patients who have major accidents anywhere in the region are transferred by helicopter or ambulance for vital care.

The hospital’s emergency room, which includes state-of-the-art isolation rooms and a decontamination area specifically designed for managing pandemics and severe outbreaks, sees more than 200 patients per day, on some days, Parkes said.

The hospital also offers a number of outpatient programs and clinics. More recently in 2016, the hospital began offering a endovascular thrombectomy program, which allows for the early diagnosis and treatment of strokes.

Advances in technology have changed the way the hospital operates as well.

“We do a lot more day care surgeries now than we’ve ever done. So patients who may have had to come and stay in hospital overnight now they come in and have their surgery one day and they go home the same day just because of advances in technology,” said Parkes, noting the hospital also treats a much older population now as the baby boomer generation grows older.

“I would say the same for medicine. We’re seeing a lot more sicker, more acutely ill patients than we’ve ever seen.”

The hospital is currently completing its strategic plan to continue delivering the best medical care to the growing West Shore population.

RELATED: Donation benefits littlest patients at Victoria General Hospital

Another big part of Victoria General is its auxiliary, which has been raising funds for the hospital for the past 35 years. In addition to monthly book sales and sales in the hospital’s concourse, the auxiliary runs the gift shop.

The auxiliary, and its roughly 100 volunteers including some members (Kay McQueen, Joyce Calland, Judy Gordon and Anne Elm) who have been there since the beginning, donates more than $200,00 annually to the hospital to purchase medical equipment and other amenities. Most recently, it raised more than $6,000 from its annual Poinsettias for Patients program to allow the Victoria Hospitals Foundation to purchase a new biliblanket for the neo-natal unit.

Val Smith, president of the auxiliary, said one of its greatest achievement over the last 35 years was the Oasis@3North: A project of the auxiliary, which was completed in 2016.

The more than 1,000 square-foot outdoor space on the third floor was transformed to include trees, shrugs and benches for patients, visitors and staff to relax.

“During the daylight hours it’s open to everyone,” said Smith, who has been involved with the auxiliary for the past decade.

“Families come. Granny will bring a bunch of food to one of the tables and the patient will come out and they’ll have a family picnic, or the staff just go out there to eat and have a moment’s peace … Everyone in the auxiliary is quite pleased that we did it.”

As part of the hospital’s anniversary, it will be hosting a staff appreciation barbecue to celebrate in June.

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