The Comox Valley officially bid farewell to St. Joseph’s General Hospital as the region’s main healthcare facility on Oct. 21.
The farewell tribute was made at an official open house attended by more than 100 people. The event began with several speeches and concluded with a self-guided tour of select areas of the Catholic faith-based facility.
St. Joseph’s, which operated as the Comox Valley’s main hospital for more than 100 years, was replaced by the new North Island Hospital Comox Valley Campus earlier this month.
However, the transition of staff and patients to the new hospital was only for acute care. St. Joseph’s continues to provide subsidized residential and hospice care at its “The Views” facility.
One of the event’s speakers on Oct. 21 was St. Joseph’s board chair Chris Kelsey, who said the open house was a way to welcome a new chapter for St. Joseph’s.
“Today isn’t just about saying goodbye,” said Kelsey. “It’s also about welcoming a new chapter for the community with our new state-of-the-art Comox Valley hospital. And also welcoming what we’re confident will be a transformational and exciting chapter for St. Joseph’s, our seniors and this incredible site.”
Founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto, the facility opened in 1913 as a four-bedroom farmhouse. It later grew in capacity to become the community’s main hospital, with 241 care beds. It specialized in providing acute care services.
In a typical day at the Comox-based hospital, staff would deliver two babies, perform 35 surgeries, and provide cancer care services to 20 people. More than 1,500 pounds of laundry would be handled and 650 meals would be served to patients.
“It’s overwhelming to think what these walls have witnessed since ,” said Kelsey. “The incredible joy and happiness of babies being born and lives saved, as well as the incredible despair of lives lost. The hope, the sadness. The highest of highest and the lowest of lows.”
One of the highlights from the Oct. 21 event was a speech from Harry Vogel (92), who was born at St. Joseph’s in 1925. Vogel recounted memories of the years he lived in the Comox Valley, where he spent his early and later years.
“My sister told me I arrived at 4 a.m.,” said Vogel. “Now, I can’t confirm that because I wasn’t wearing my watch at the time.”
Other speakers included former president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Jane Murphy, the three mayors of the Valley-based municipalities, Island Health chief medical officer Jeremey Etherington and The Views resident Wilma Mckenzie (87).
Reverend Bishop Gary Gordon provided opening and closing prayers at the ceremony, which was MCed by chaplain Brian Ducedre.