A celebration was held recently highlighting the 25th anniversary of Powell River General Hospital’s building and location at 5000 Joyce Avenue.
Prior to 1993, the community’s main health centre was located in Townsite. Powell River Hospital Foundation vice president Rod Tysdal was the last patient in the old Powell River General Hospital, which was originally built in 1942 at the corner of Marine and Arbutus avenues.
“I was put in the children’s ward because everything else had been moved,” he said. “They had moved all the pots and pans from the kitchen so they were bringing me food from the new hospital.”
Tysdal recalls the excitement surrounding construction of the new building and the impact it had on the community.
“It was a great thing for Powell River,” he said.
Powell River Hospital Foundation and Powell River Health-Care Auxiliary work closely to raise funds to support the purchasing of additional medical equipment for the community.
“We buy equipment for the hospital so people don’t have to go out of town for different things,” said Tysdal.
Over the years, through community fundraising, the groups have built a hydrotherapy pool and purchased portable X-ray and ultrasound machines, along with many other projects.
“Probably the highlight along with the hospital auxiliary was the promotion of the CAT scan campaign,” said Tysdal.
Since the purchase of that first machine, the groups fundraised and bought a new CT scanner this spring. Next on the agenda is raising funds to upgrade the maternity ward in the hospital, as currently some 10 per cent of expectant mothers in the community need to travel to Vancouver to give birth, according to Tysdal.
“We’re trying to get equipment here so they don’t have to do that; that’s going to be our next big push,” he said.
Working together with the community to provide better medical equipment and care has been rewarding, he added.
“This community is generous and has been really great in supporting the local hospital,” said Tysdal. “We’re very thankful for everything they do to help us improve health care here.”
The town’s first hospital arrived at the same time the hydroelectric dam, mill and Powell River Company were being built. It started out as a tent and converted bunkhouse, and opened June 29, 1910. Powell River’s first physician, Dr. Andrew Henderson, effectively created the province’s first medical plan when he negotiated that $1 be taken from mill employees’ monthly pay to cover the cost of medical treatment.
When Henderson's house, the first private residence in town, was built on Walnut Street in 1913, St. Luke’s Hospital was constructed behind it.