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Emergency Department (ED) Stories: Jeff Ethier

Jeff Ethier fell off scaffolding almost three years ago, cracking his head wide open and knocking himself out. He believes he is alive and doing well today thanks to the quick action of the doctors and nurses from West Coast General Hospital’s emergency department.

When Jeff heard about the plans for the emergency department at West Coast General Hospital, he was excited. “If the emergency facility wasn’t here at WCGH I probably would have died,” he explains.

Jeff was stabilized at WCGH and was transferred to Victoria approximately three hours after arriving at WCGH by ambulance, the Victoria doctors said he was lucky he received the care he did in Port Alberni.

WCGH is known as a facility that assesses patients professionally and ensures they are quickly given the care they need. Almost all of the patients coming through the WCGH ER are treated locally. Approximately one per cent require third-level care and they are transferred safely to other facilities after being stabilized in the local ER.

“The doctors told Jeff it is a miracle that he survived. Everything in his brain was bleeding,” Jeff’s wife Tina explains, adding that they warned the family that if he did survive he would likely be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. His family and friends are very happy that Jeff is alive after receiving the proper treatments from the start at the WCGH Emergency.

Tina is happy to hear the emergency department will have more space and will be able to handle more emergencies. “If we didn’t have this kind of emergency care here I would want to move away, especially after what happened to Jeff,” Tina says. “I wouldn’t feel secure living in the Valley.”

The $6.25 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.

Jeff and Tina hope residents, organizations, and businesses rise to the Challenge and donate to the WCGH Foundation. The Foundation has pledged to raise $2 million through its WCGH Emergency Challenge. To donate or for more information, contact the Foundation at 250-731-1370 ext. 48148 or email

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