Royal Columbian Health Care Centre – “The Un-Hospital”

Royal Columbian Health Care Centre Opened August 8, 1978

On August 5, 1978, The Columbian newspaper extolled the virtues of soon-to-be-opened Royal Columbian Health Care Centre in an article entitled, “Latest Equipment Featured in Royal Columbian Complex”. It said:

“The old ‘Royal Columbian Hospital’ is a thing of the past. In its place stands a modern, bright new building with the very latest in equipment to provide for the health care needs of the Fraser Valley. Even the name has been changed. This new regional referral hospital is called the Royal Columbian Health Care Centre – though those who have been involved in the planning of the new structure realize it may take years before people accept the new name.
The idea behind both the building and the name change was to make the Centre as “un-hospital” as possible in an attempt to dispel any fears harboured by some people of entering a hospital for treatment. The “un-hospital” atmosphere and surroundings, the planning committee hopes, will make such people feel more relaxed and optimistic in a setting with which they are familiar.
Manifesting this idea is the entrance to the new health care centre which has been designed along shopping mall lines. The décor is colourful, one wall depicting the colour code for each floor.
The second floor of the new building has been devoted to critical care. This is a unique concept in hospital planning permitting the integration of highly complex procedures which meld specially trained personnel and sophisticated equipment into an organized, centralized intensive treatment area.
The Special Procedures (radiology) component is one of the most advanced in North America with over a million dollars being spent on the equipment in this department alone.
The pediatrics department is bright and cheerful. It has a separate lounge and an outside rooftop play area (with a strong, high fence) where youngsters who are well enough can be more active than is normally possible in a hospital.
Patients in the maternity department can watch the children at play through the large windows or they can go down to the other end of the maternity floor near the nursery and enjoy their own rooftop patio.
Plans are to furnish the latter area with lawn chairs and tables so that maternity patients can feel more at home with their visitors.”

The actual opening of the Health Care Centre on August 8, 1978 was the occasion of a visit by both Prince Philip and his 18-year old son Prince Andrew.

Prince Philip and Prince Andrew at opening of Royal Columbian Health Care Centre

When they moved toward the platform, accompanied by the Hon. Grace McCarthy, Provincial Secretary and Minister of Tourism, Robert H McClelland, Minister of Health, Muni Evers, Mayor of New Westminster and Bernard Martin-Smith, Executive Director of RCH, they were greeted by an honour guard of 160 staff members, each department represented on a proportional basis. The ceremony, which included music, speeches, tours and ribbon cutting, went smoothly as planned and the following day, most newspapers, while mentioning the event, focussed on the fact that the “tall, tanned Prince Philip” had piloted the RAF Andover plane from Victoria to Vancouver and even driven his own yellow Rolls Royce!

Prince Philip Waves After Taking the Wheel of his Yellow Rolls Royce

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