'Much more to come' for RCH
As the crowd gathered in the lobby of Royal Columbian Hospital munches on cupcakes and apples while listening to speeches about its 150th anniversary, two paramedics pushed a gurney carrying an elderly patient through the assemblage and past the podium.
It may have been party time but, just like the past century and a half, the hospital's work continued.
The hospital officially celebrated its sesquicentennial Friday morning in front of staff and visitors. The stretcher came through, appropriately enough, while Dr. Sadiq Abdullah, the 1,000th intern to graduate from Royal Columbian, was speaking. Still dressed in scrubs, he told of only getting a couple of hours sleep after a busy night.
"We had a memorial for an appendix we took out, we got a pacemaker going and a baby born," said Abdullah. "it was another successful night."
Dr. Nigel Murray, head of Fraser Health, talked about the hospital's legendary past and its bright future.
"It is absolutely incredible Royal Columbian Hospital, which came from such humble beginnings, has evolved to become a health care leader in our community, our province and also our country," said Murray. "It is an outstanding beacon of care and service. No other hospital in Western Canada sees as much trauma, and few see the cases that have so much complexity as Royal Columbian."
Murray noted the province has approved a redevelopment of RCH with a business plan for how that's going to be accomplished due in 2013.
"There's much more to come. We have done great things for 150 years and there's more great things to come," Murray said. "[Royal Columbian] has a rich history and a strong future."
• Coun. Bill Harper, who attended the ceremony, said council met with Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid during the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. He said she not only promised to go through with the redevelopment, but also said Royal Columbian would not be moving to the former Riverview psychiatric facility in Coquitlam, something suggested by that city's council.
Harper said MacDiarmid liked the fact one-third of Wesgroup's Brewery District office development next door has been set aside for health care, which could keep the capital costs down while still creating space for programs and administration.
The redevelopment has the potential to double Royal Columbian's current job force of 1,500, said Harper. "This is a huge boom to the economy of New Westminster and in particular Sapperton. I think you're going to see a huge change in Sapperton. People will want to work here and live here."