Hospital 50th salutes volunteers, staff

Large crowd captivated by history, entertaining speakers

Carole Rooney (photos by Carole Rooney)

Free Press

Many memories and laughs were sparked at the 100 Mile District General Hospital (OMH) 50th Anniversary Celebration Tea on July 22, which attracted a good turnout from the community.

Master of ceremonies, Interior Health (IH) acute care health service director Barb Tymchuk, welcomed the crowd packed into the South Cariboo Health Centre cafeteria, and noted some major changes made to the hospital since 1966.

“Over the past 50 years, the hospital has had major changes to both the building and the services offered.

“OMH is truly a flagship model with all of the services [provided] under one roof, and what’s even more impressive is the community spirit and the commitment to this hospital, and so I applaud everyone.”

Tymchuk, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett and many of the other guest speakers commended the fundraising and volunteers that helped found, develop and equip the health centre during the past half century.

“I had the privilege of being a patient in the hospital [back] when there were 36 beds and one doctor,” said Barnett.

“You know, it was like going on a holiday [she joked], if you could get a touch of pneumonia, you could get in here for three weeks, full service … it was wonderful.”

More seriously, she said the citizens served today are fortunate to also have wonderful, caring nurses, doctors, and everyone else who is engaged in health care across British Columbia.

Longtime nurse Dorothy Rendall, who is fondly remembered in the community, was the nurse who treated Barnett decades ago in her first visit to the hospital, after a car accident.

The MLA added when the first long-term care facility opened in 1982, it was called Mill Site Cottage.

Volunteer hospital founder and former board member, Chuck Shaw-McLaren, spoke about the old days. While the hospital opened in 1966, he noted the work by their team of dedicated volunteers started in about 1958.

“We got very good help from the ambulance group [of 32 volunteers] because we were tired of going to Ashcroft or Williams Lake every time we had an accident or somebody got sick.”

While he named three who were instrumental – Gordon Trusler, Alec McMillan and David Ainsworth – he also acknowledged the great many people who helped to develop the hospital.

“Those are the people we need to thank; they’re not here and it’s a shame.”

His good friend, (former mayor) Ross Marks, was the one who he wished most were alive to see the results of their efforts 50 years later.

South Cariboo Health Foundation (SCHF) chair Chris Nickless began his speech with a “big thank-you” to the health-care professionals who “just do a fantastic job in this community.”

He also expressed gratitude to the “pioneers” of the community who had the foresight to get it built and to Barnett for her efforts benefiting the hospital over the years.

Nickless gave a verbal “sneak peek” into what folks might see this fall when the SCHF’s fundraising calendar will feature “hospital departments,” and noted the community has supported the society with more than $2 million to date, in contributions for health-care improvements.

“It’s been noted many times how this community responds, and believe me, this [SCHF] board knows.”

Anne Marie Brown, a longtime hospital RN and a volunteer today, captivated the crowd with her very entertaining speech.

She painted a vivid picture of the different jobs all the nurses did at the hospital in the 1970s and ’80s, and some of the archaic equipment they relied on every day.

From babies in apple boxes with nurses washing the cloth diapers (and adults’ bedpans) by hand to walking dogs for emergency room patients, everything was different 50 years ago, she explained.

“It [wasn’t] actually the ‘good old days’ because I think things are actually a lot better now, and a lot easier – more technical. I enjoyed my days here, though.”

Other special guests included past 100 Mile District Hospice Palliative Care Society volunteer Anne Mulders, 100 Mile District General Hospital Auxiliary president Mina Elsworth, IH director Tammy Tugnam, and District of 100 Mile House Councillor Ralph Fossum – all of whom also made interesting speeches.

Most folks at the celebration also enjoyed tea and celebratory cake, perused the displays of historical photos and memorabilia, and then headed out in the sun to enjoy the 1960s automobiles outside the hospital courtesy of the 100 Mile Cruzers Car Club.

Hospital 50th_20

Interior Health representatives and special guest speakers entertained and enlightened a large crowd of folks who packed into the cafeteria at the 100 Mile District General Hospital 50th Anniversary Celebration Tea on July 22. It was a proud recognition of its half-century milestone.


Hospital 50th_09Guest speaker Chuck Shaw-McLaren, front, shared great memories and anecdotes of the years leading up to the hospital’s completion in 1966, which were very much enjoyed by Interior Health acute care health service director Barb Tymchuk and a large crowd at the 100 Mile District General Hospital 50th Anniversary Celebration Tea on July 22