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History of the Health Square

The Health Square, located in the lobby of Port Alberni’s West Coast General Hospital, was made possible through dedicated and determined efforts by volunteers, donors and businesses to realize a collective vision for an interior garden and gathering space to be created when the new hospital was built.

Mary Dyson, then Project Building Chair, recalls how major community-wide fundraising efforts, which included critical support from many local businesses, brought in the substantial donations needed to build the beautiful, light-filled green space we now know as the Health Square. In the years since its creation, this peaceful waiting area has been enjoyed by countless visitors and is a source of community pride for making our hospital unique.

A separate and significant donation from the Toy Run allowed a children’s playhouse to be added to the Health Square. All the equipment and the plants used in the original construction were provided by donations to the WCGH Foundation which continues to provide funding necessary for the maintenance of the Health Square. Some of the original plantings have been replaced by plants needing less care and this has been a beneficial change. One of the newer plantings, Clivias, native to South Africa, are a treat to see when in bloom. These plants can be found in beds under and across from the Donor Recognition Wall.

However, the real work involved in maintaining this treasured space continues to be done by Foundation volunteers. Currently there is an enthusiastic core group of fourteen gardeners who work together to keep the plants healthy. Some, includingWalter Winkler, the group’s volunteer coordinator, have been committing their time regularly since 2002 after the watering system was installed in the Health Square. Only the central beds were supplied with an automatic watering system leaving the plants on the periphery of the garden to be watered by hand weekly. The volunteers also tidy up fallen leaves and prune as necessary.

Recognizing these dedicated garden volunteers are the heart and soul of the Health Square, the WCGH Foundation recently installed a plaque on each of the four Health Square pillars to acknowledge their much appreciated contribution.999Walter and his team always welcome new volunteers. If you would like to help them keep our Health Square attractive and welcoming, please contact WCGH Foundation Business Director, Chris Francey at 250-731-1370, ext. 48148

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