As celebrations got underway for the Ridge Meadows Hospital’s 60th anniversary, the talk was not all about the past, but the future.
The hospital, on Laity Street, opened in 1958, and has grown in size and stature since.
“When we think that the site started with less than 70 staff and a $175,000 budget. We now have well over 1,000 staff all the physicians and I think over 400 volunteers as well,” said Valerie Spurrell, executive director of the Ridge Meadows Hospital.
The hospital began with the Baillie family selling land for it, between Lougheed Highway and River Road, for $1.
The Ridge Meadows Hospital Auxiliary started raising money for the hospital five years before it was built.
In 1973, one of the residential care wings was added, as was another in 1984.
The west wing was added in 1978, and the third floor of the ICU and surgery wing in 1988.
The new discharge planning unit opened in 1994, then the McKenney Creek Hospice and the Carelife building residential care in 2006.
The new psychiatric unit and the ER ambulatory care unit opened in 2009.
Ridge Meadows Hospital now has 125 acute care beds, including 20 psychiatric beds and 10 convalescent beds. It also has 10 hospice beds and 148 residential care beds.
Next year, the hospital will be undertaking two major projects.
One is the acquisition of a new magnetic resonance imaging machine. The other is a new computed tomography scanner.
Laurier Nobert, director of medical imaging with Vancouver Coastal Health, explained to dignitaries gathered at the Sept. 27 celebration that the new MRI machine – 1.5T a MR SIGNA Artist, by General Electric Healthcare – is worth more than $1.6 million
MRIs create images of the inside of the body, from the brain to the heart, as well as bones and joints. One can also be used to visualize inside blood vessels and organs, arteries and veins.
“The great thing about this MRI that we did choose is that it offers some patient comfort amenities,” said Nobert.
“For some patients, especially those who have anxiety or claustrophobia or stuff like that, it’s sometimes a little more comfortable if they go in feet first because they can still feel like they are still outside,” he added.
“So I can actually put you in feet-first or head-first and still scan every part of your body.”
Nobert also said the new machine will be quieter than previous ones.
“You barely hear it outside of the room.”
The new MRI machine is expected at the hospital within a year, while the CT scanner is expected sometime in 2019.
Both machines were paid for by Fraser Health.
The CT scanner cost $748,000.
Dignitaries at the 60th-anniversary celebration spoke about their connections to Ridge Meadows Hospital.
Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MLA Lisa Beare thanked the hospital foundation and its members, who take the time to work with people who are vulnerable in our community.
“You do such fantastic work.”
David Thompson, vice-president of community hospitals and programs with Fraser Health, was assigned to the Ridge Meadows Hospital as a director with Fraser Health in 2001, “when there was some job action going on.
He thanked staff, physicians, volunteers, the foundation and auxiliary for their dedication and commitment to meet the needs of the people they serve.
“I have to say, personally, Ridge Meadows Hospital has a very special place in my heart.”
Maple Ridge Coun. Gordy Robson was at the opening of the hospital when he was 12 years old.
“And that’s when I lost my mother, because she came to work here,” he said.
“She worked in maternity for 25 years and we never saw her on another holiday,” adding that she was proud of her contribution, as was his family.