Tofino General Hospital Foundation board members Phyllis Banks, left, Camilla Thorogood, and Arlene McGinnis clutch a giant cheque presented by Coastal Community Credit Union branch manager Marc Salewski. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Tofino General Hospital Foundation board members Phyllis Banks, left, Camilla Thorogood, and Arlene McGinnis clutch a giant cheque presented by Coastal Community Credit Union branch manager Marc Salewski. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Tofino General Hospital Foundation presses VIHA for a new hospital

Ministry of Health says they are in the early stage of the planning process and there is no timeline

Having to cancel their annual fundraiser at Shelter for the last two years has put the Tofino General Hospital Foundation in deficit, but they forge on nonetheless.

“One of these days, we’ll get a new hospital. I worked there for 30 years and we were promised at least four times for a new hospital,” said Tofino General Hospital Foundation board member Phyllis Banks at a June 8 cheque presentation from Coastal Community Credit Union (CCCU).

Hospital Foundation chair Arlene McGinnis echoes the plea.

“Our hospital is outdated in more ways than one. The Vancouver Island Health Authority knows that our hospital is not in shape. It was built in 1954,” said McGinnis.

She went on to say that the buildings’ foundation is at a breaking point, it’s not earthquake proof, and the aging electrical doesn’t support some of the new equipment.

The Ministry of Health confirmed via email on June 17 that plans for a new Tofino hospital are in its infancy.

“We know there is interest regarding future plans for Tofino General Hospital. The early stage of the planning process is underway and there is no timeline for a potential project at this stage, however we will update the community when there is more information,” reads an email statement from the Ministry of Health.

As part of Coastal Community’s Relief and Resiliency Fund, the Hospital Foundation was awarded a one-time donation of $5,000 to help replace the shortfall from nixing their major fundraising event due to the pandemic.

“It was clear how this (grant) would help the community both during and after the pandemic, which is a great fit with our passion to help build healthier communities,” said Joe Cristiano, CCCU’s chief of community and marketing.

“We’re so grateful for the amazing work that everyone at the Tofino General Hospital Foundation, and everyone at the Hospital itself of course, do in providing essential healthcare to our communities. We’re also grateful to be in a position to help them on behalf of our members,” Cristiano went on to note.

McGinnis said rather than putting the $5,000 donation in a cache for infrastructure upgrades, they will invest in medical equipment.

“The Foundation has designated the monies to go to the purchase of eight new hospital bed mattresses. These are special mattresses for bed-ridden patients,” she said, adding that they have some money set aside for a new build, but it is their mandate to raise funds for much needed equipment.

Banks re-iterates the urgency of needing a new hospital for the West Coast.

“We have three beds for Emergency with absolutely no privacy, just curtains between the patients. We have First Nations that like to have gatherings but there is basically nowhere for families to go,” said Banks.

Since 2017, the Ministry of Health says more than $3.07 million in projects and equipment have been invested at Tofino General Hospital to support care needs. Some recent projects at Tofino General Hospital include: Re-opening of the Heliport (May 2019), X-Ray capital equipment upgrades (Dec. 2020), Electrical upgrades to patient rooms (March 2021) and the Trauma Room Refresh that is currently underway.

“Our government is committed to supporting patient care in communities throughout the province. In January of this year, we announced a $6.25-million emergency department redevelopment to support improvements to patient care and privacy at West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni,” said the Ministry of Health.

RELATED: Fundraiser brings in $103,000 for Tofino hospital



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

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