The expanded emergency department at West Coast General Hospital (WCGH) in Port Alberni, a city on Vancouver Island in the Canadian province of British Columbia, is now open to patients.

Currently, the facility is serving the local community and nearby areas.

The 2,626ft2 expansion added three new patient exam beds, more space for patients awaiting test results, and a secure seclusion room for emergency mental health care.

In addition, it involved improvements to triage and admitting areas, along with increased clinical space and a dedicated ambulance entrance.

Minister of Health Adrian Dix said: “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.

“Ensuring that people have timely access to health care in their communities continues to be a top priority.

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“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.”

The C$6.95m ($5.03m) funding for the project came from various sources.

These include C$2.55m from the provincial government, C$2.40m from the WCGH Foundation, C$1.70m from the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional Hospital District, and C$0.30m from the Island Health Authority.

The hospital, originally opened in 2001 with 52 inpatient beds, saw 25,715 patient visits to the emergency department in 2022.

Island Health board chair Leah Hollins said: “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.

“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.”