How big was RCH at its 75th anniversary?

When the Royal Columbian Hospital began in New Westminster in 1862, there was one steward and his wife, a few untrained “nurses” who were hired on a daily basis if a particular patient needed extra attention, and one “Medical Officer”. There was room for 30 beds and in their first year, they treated 19 patients in the hospital, another 10 as out-patients.

In 2012, during its 150th anniversary year, RCH expects to receive 68,000 Emergency Room visits, treat 10,000 trauma patients, perform more than 4,900 heart catheterizations and deliver 3,000 babies (double the entire population of New Westminster in 1862).

So how big was it half-way – when it was only 75 years old? In 1937 more than 180 officials, nurses and employees were needed to run the hospital, a number that seemed huge to them at the time.

The entire hospital was under the secretary-manager, E.W Withers, who had held that post for 26 years.

Second-in-command was the Superintendent of Nurses, Miss Elizabeth Clark, who had been with the hospital for seven years. Twelve registered graduate nurses were under her as ward supervisors and instructors, and they were assisted by nearly 70 student nurses.

Miss Helen King, dietician, oversaw a considerable kitchen staff with the help of her two assistant dieticians. She also utilized many of the utility staff of 39 maids, domestics and janitors.

An office staff of six kept the accounts and records, with Miss M. Dockrill as chief accountant.

Dr. H.E. Mitchell was in charge of the X-Ray departments, with two assistant technicians, while L.A. Breun and one technician, Miss I. Barr, looked after the laboratory.

Members of the Fraser Valley Medical Society were the hospital’s doctors and every month a specific city doctor was appointed the doctor-on-call for emergency cases.

In charge of the hospital power plant was Robert McKean, chief engineer, a veteran of 18 years’ service and his four assistants. The large laundry was under F. Blewett, foreman, with two men and nine women assistants, as well as three seamstresses.

W. Booth was head gardener, with a varied number of helpers. There was also a head carpenter and painter, several handymen and extra helpers available on call.

Based on information in The British Columbian, Royal Columbian Hospital 75th Anniversary Edition, 1937

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One Comment on “How big was RCH at its 75th anniversary?”


  1. Thank you for providing such information. This is very generous of you providing such vital information which is very informative.Doctors on Call


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