West Coast General Hospital Foundation president Dr. Robert O’Dwyer, left, and foundation business manager Jessica Weeks, right, join Foster and Stephanie Belle, Wayne and Susan, Stephanie and Britton Coulson in announcing the Coulson family’s $500,000 donation to the WCGH emergency department. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

West Coast General Hospital Foundation president Dr. Robert O’Dwyer, left, and foundation business manager Jessica Weeks, right, join Foster and Stephanie Belle, Wayne and Susan, Stephanie and Britton Coulson in announcing the Coulson family’s $500,000 donation to the WCGH emergency department. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Coulson family donates $500,000 to West Coast General Hospital Foundation

Donation pushes the foundation well past its goal of raising $2 million

The Coulson family of Port Alberni has donated $500,000 to the West Coast General Hospital Foundation’s emergency department expansion fund.

“We’re just celebrating our history here,” Wayne Coulson said on behalf of the family. His wife Susan, children Foster and Britton and their wives were also present for the announcement. “We moved here in 1960. Susan and I were married in 1984 and the kids grew up here,” Coulson said.

“We’ve been blessed to have several hundred employees over the years in the community. As a family we’ve all had the services of the wonderful people in the community and first responders over the years. We thought it would be wonderful as a family to be able to participate in the facility.”

READ: West Coast General Hospital emergency entrance to close temporarily due to construction

The Coulsons’ contribution pushed the foundation well past its goal of raising $2 million for the hospital expansion, announced in January 2021, and ensured they accomplished that goal 10 months early. “We wanted to contribute at this level to make sure it was going to exceed expectations for the community,” Coulson said.

Foundation president Dr. Robert O’Dwyer expressed his thanks to the family. “This expansion is badly needed. It’s been needed for at least 10 years. It’s going to contribute greatly to the quality of care that we’ll be able to deliver to our patients in the Valley here,” he said.

After delaying construction for a number of years, Island Health announced in January 2021 that the long-awaited emergency department expansion was going forward. The hospital opened at its location on Redford Street in 2000.

West Coast General Hospital is located in Port Alberni but serves a wider community in central Vancouver Island, he said, from Parksville on the east coast to Tofino and Ucluelet on the west coast. “The population here is growing steadily over the last 15 years. With the cost of building this, the fact that we have extra money, we will be able to give more than $2 million,” which will be able to cover inflation and rising costs of supplies.

“We’ll actually be able to get what we wanted,” O’Dwyer said.

The total cost of the emergency department expansion is estimated at $6.25 million, and the foundation originally committed to raising $2 million of the total.

“There’s countless stories of how the emergency room has saved the lives of hundreds of people over the last 25 years,” O’Dwyer said. “I could recount hundreds of stories to you about what we’ve managed to do there.”

He worked as director of the ambulance service for a number of years, working directly with first responders, and said Port Alberni’s first responders have “a huge standard of care. They’ll do anything to make sure they safely look after people who are in jeopardy, in trouble.”

Between the Coulson donation and one from John Campbell, criteria has been met for both families’ names to be included on the outside of the expanded emergency department when it opens, said Chris Francey, outgoing business manager with the WCGH Foundation.



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

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