New All Nations Room at West Coast General offers welcoming space for families to gather

Karly Blats, May 3, 2019

The public are invited to give feedback on the design of the new feature in Port Alberni's hospital on May 9 and 11. (Karly Blats photo)

Port Alberni, BC — 

Coming from a First Nation’s perspective of valuing family, the West Coast General Hospital has developed an All Nations Room for Aboriginal patients and their relatives.

Pam Rardon, WCGH site director, said it was important for the hospital to offer a welcoming and comfortable space for families to meet.

“It's an all nations healing room so we want it to be a healing environment, for it to have that focus,” Rardon said. “We have a large Indigenous population here and we want to make sure that we’re working to make it a more comfortable environment and welcoming.”

Rardon said the idea for an All Nations Room has been a work in progress for quite a while and finding the right space was challenging.

“At West Coast General, that’s always difficult to find the right space,” she said. “It’s important to find space that’s welcoming and comfortable and also functional or useable.”

She added that finding a space that is easy to find, close to washrooms and open to larger areas was important.

The room is located near the cafe in the main lobby and features a kitchenette, and space for food preparation.

Rardon said the Cultural Safety Committee, which is made up of WCGH staff and individuals from the community, worked hard to find the right space.

The room hasn’t officially opened yet, as staff are looking for community input on design and layout.

Benedict Leonard, nurse navigator with the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, said a grand opening won’t be until later in June but that there will be opportunities on May 9 and 11 for the community to view the space and give feedback on what design should look like.

“We want to hear what people think,” Leonard said.

Leonard said it’s important to have an All Nations Room at WCGH because “it’s been recognized that caring for a First Nations person includes caring for their family.”

“My experience has been that when a person is in the hospital then family rallies and they want to be here for support. I have definitely seen a dozen plus family members show up and they share lunch and they consult on care planning,” he said. “The hospital is simply not designed for such large groups of public. [The space] comes from a First Nation’s perspective of valuing family. It’s a gathering place for people to either wait for loved ones who are currently admitted or have meetings or share food.”

Rardon added that it “feels great” to be at the point of asking for community input.

“Hopefully it won’t be too long before we have the room ready to go,” she said.

Public are invited to provide their input on furniture and design on May 9 and 11 from 12 to 4 p.m.