The first time I heard of St Paul’s Hospital was when I was talking to my friend (and neighbour) about where we were born. We were about 9 or 10 years old and she told me she was born at St. Paul’s in Vancouver, which seemed strange to me since my brother, sister and I were all born at Surrey Memorial. I didn’t know that I would grow up and soon live within blocks of the historic building or that its future serving our major metropolitan area would be in jeopardy.
St Paul’s Hospital timeline (source, if not otherwise stated, is VancouverHistory.ca)
- 1892 – The Sisters of Providence arrived from Portland upon recommendation by Bishop Paul Durieu as Vancouver’s population was growing and in need of health care. They bought seven lots on the outskirts of Vancouver for $9,000 and a 25-bed hospital was completed in 1894. [source: Providence Health Care]
- November 22, 1894 – Bishop Paul Durieu blessed it the building (side note: the hospital is not named after St. Paul, but actually for Bishop Paul Durieu himself. [source: VancouverHistory]
- 1904 – 50 more beds added.
- September 1, 1907 – Official opening of a School of Nursing at St. Paul’s Hospital.
- 1912 – Construction began to expand St. Paul’s into a 120-bed hospital.
- 1921 – The staff at St. Paul’s Hospital devised a machine that controlled ether administration in the operating room.
- September 1, 1922 – Margaret Yvonne Middleton (Yvonne De Carlo) was born at St. Paul’s.
- 1959 – Dr Harold Rice at St Paul’s Hospital built Canada’s first heart-lung machine.
- 1960 – St. Paul’s Hospital opened BC’s first biomedical engineering department.
- 1966 – St Paul’s Hospital opened its intensive-care unit.
- 1983 – AIDS Vancouver was founded, the same year that St. Paul’s admitted its first AIDS patient.
- 1983 – Tower completed.
- 1991 – Additional 10-story tower completed.
In recent years, and with a growing population yet again, the hospital is running out of room. The PHC (Providence Health Care) and they are proposing an upgrade called the “Legacy Project”. As such, a group emerged a few years ago leading an initiative to Save St. Paul’s.
The Legacy Project includes two options. The first is construction and redevelopment on the current site that will take an estimated 15 years. The second (and I assume the less popular) is to build a new facility in South East False Creek on 18.5 acres, which would take 5-7 years.
Tomorrow while I’m on location with CBC’s Coast to Coast they will be speaking with members of the Save St. Paul’s Coalition as it is definitely a hot topic (as it was when I was doing my provincial candidate interviews last fall).
What are your thoughts? Should Vancouver expand and preserve it’s only downtown hospital or would it be better off in another location with more room to breathe?