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ED Stories: Pat Kermeen

Pat Kermeen believes she is alive today because of the fast work of the doctors and nurses at West Coast General Hospital.

Six years ago, Pat was visiting with friends when she started to feel under the weather. Her company asked if she wanted them to take her to the hospital. To be safe, Pat decided to go. That decision probably saved her life.

Shortly after arriving, doctors determined Pat’s stomach pain that day was much more serious than anyone could have imagined. The doctors determined that she had a hole in her diaphragm. As a result, her stomach was up by her shoulder and the rest of her organs had migrated to her chest.

The doctors told her if she had waited it was unlikely she would have lived another 24 hours.

“I’m alive today because of the hard work of the doctors and nurses in the Emergency Department of the hospital,” she said.

The doctors in Port Alberni operated immediately, tying her stomach down and fixing the hole. She spent three weeks at WCGH – one week of that in the Intensive Care Unit. She was then transferred to Victoria where the issue could be fixed permanently. She was told the Victoria hospital was very busy at that time but they agreed to operate because her case was so extreme.

This month Pat will celebrate her 80th birthday, and she said it is all because of the care she received when she first realized something was wrong and went to WCGH.

The recently announced $6.2 million emergency department redevelopment will include 244 square metre expansion, as well as improvements to the existing space. It will add three new patient exam beds, extra space for testing, a private room for patients who need mental health care, improvements to the triage and admitting area, and two separate entrances for ambulance and the general public.

“We are so lucky to have the department we have,” Pat explained. “This expansion will mean the Emergency Department can offer even better care than they already do.”

As a nurse who now works at the Port Alberni Overdose Prevention Site, Pat has seen how important this redevelopment of the Emergency Department is from a different perspective as well. She said many of the people she deals with at work need extra care because of their addiction or mental health issues. Currently, WCGH does not have enough space to offer this level of privacy.

“The doctors and nurses there are great, but it’s hard to offer their patients privacy when space is so limited,” she said.

Pat hopes that her story inspires people to give what they can to the WCGH Foundation Emergency Challenge.

“I would do anything I can to help the hospital raise money for the ED expansion,” she said. “They saved my life.”

No challenge is too small to raise $2 million for the Emergency Department, and every dollar raised gets the WCGH Foundation one-step closer to achieving its fundraising goal. Who are you going to challenge?

For more information, to suggest a challenge idea, or to make a donation, contact the Foundation at 250-731-1370 ext. 48148 or email

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