Bella Coola General Hospital

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Bella Coola General Hospital

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Bella Coola General Hospital is located in Bella Coola, British Columbia along the central coast. It currently serves local residents and those in the surrounding areas, including the Nuxalk Nation.

In 1908, prior to United Church administration of the hospital, settlers in Bella Coola formed the Bella Coola Hospital Committee. Its members were elected by a public meeting at the Hagensborg schoolhouse to raise funds for, and eventually to oversee the management of a hospital in Bella Coola. In 1909 the Bella Coola General Hospital was incorporated under the Benevolent Societies Act of B.C., and the Hospital itself was at least briefly in operation by the end of 1910. The founding members of the Committee were (Mr.) B. Brynildson as Chair, C. Carlson as Secretary-Treasurer, Rev. W.H. Gibson, J.B. Sylvester and T.H. Johnson. It eventually came to include the Medical Superintendent of the Hospital, and by the 1980s, the Hospital Administrator.

The United Church of Canada was formed in 1925 and donated land for a new building; the Church took responsibility for the ongoing financial support of the Hospital in 1928. When the Hospital became financially independent of the United Church, and the Board reported first to the Province of British Columbia under the Hospital Act. The association with the United Church continued to exist, in part because of the difficulty recruiting qualified personnel to work in isolated places.

The original Bella Coola General Hospital building was replaced with a more adequate second hospital building in 1929. By the 1970s, the second hospital building was deteriorating and a new hospital was needed. The third hospital building, a 15-bed facility, was opened on September 20, 1980.

In the late 1990s, British Columbia restructured how healthcare was delivered in the province, moving toward regionalization. The decision was made to transfer operation of Bella Coola General Hospital from the United Church of Canada to a regional Health Authority. As a result, in March 1998, the Bella Coola General Hospital Board, with the support of the United Church of Canada gave notice to Ministry of Health to transfer responsibility for hospital operations from the Board to the Bella Coola and District Transitional Health Authority. The intent was to turn over the full operation to community boards after a three years trial period or operation would revert back to the United Church of Canada. Per the original agreement, the Transitional Health Authority was dissolved in December 2001.

The operation of Bella Coola General Hospital reverted back to the United Church of Canada under the Provincial Denominational Health Services Master Agreement. A new Hospital Board was formed by Dr. Ray McIlwain in February 2002. Under the new regionalization model in British Columbia, Bella Coola General Hospital formed an affiliation agreement to the Kelowna/Central Interior Region but was reassigned, by request, to Vancouver Coastal Health to better serve the community. By 2003, Bella Coola General Hospital had an independent community Board providing direction and accountability. The United Church of Canada shifted control of their health services over to the United Church Health Services Society in 2008.

In August 2013, it was announced that the affiliation agreement between the United Church Health Services Society and Vancouver Coastal Health was ending. Full control and operation of the hospital was handed over to Vancouver Coast Health in June 2014.


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