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Twice Thankful for Emergency Department Services

When Ellen Frood first moved to Vancouver Island a minor accident

changed her life. One day she stood up from grabbing something in

the fridge and hit her head hard on the freezer door.What seemed like a

silly accident took her on a journey that lead to the story about how the

team at the West Coast General Hospital saved her life.

After the accident, Ellen feared she had a concussion. Her head hurt a lot,

and it often worried her when she was driving back and forth between

Nanaimo where she lived and Port Alberni where she had taken on a

new role as the Executive Director of ACAWS. One day she went to the

walk-in clinic, where she was referred to a doctor and eventually sent for

blood work at the hospital.

What started as routine blood work escalated quickly, and before she

knew it, the team in the Emergency Department had recognized the

urgency of her situation and admitted her.With no real memory of that

time, Ellen says before she knew it, she was in the Intensive Care Unit

with tubes everywhere.

“I lost a day and found out I had suffered a diabetic crisis,” she says,

explaining that the team of doctors and nurses in the Emergency

Department were shocked by the numbers that came back with her

bloodwork. “If I hadn’t been there in the Emergency Department, I

would have died or gone into a coma.”

She says, although bumping her head on the freezer door had nothing

to do with her final diagnosis, it was the catalyst that brought her to the

hospital. For that she is grateful.

“The people in the Emergency Department and ICU are amazing,” she

says.“They are terrific, compassionate, caring people who do everything

they can to help.”

Ellen says earlier this year the Emergency Department was there for her

once again when her husband fell ill. She brought him there thinking

they might both have COVID-19. It turned out they were both suffering

from viral pneumonia. For a second time, she found herself thankful to

be treated at the WCGH Emergency Department.

Ellen is happy to hear the department will be getting much-needed

renovations and upgrades.

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 separate patient rooms, extra space for

testing, a separate 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.

Ellen says she hears lots of stories in her role at ACAWS about how

the medical system is failing the less under-served people in our

community. She says the additional privacy measures the upgrades

include will make a big difference in the lives of a lot of people who

already don’t want to go to the hospital because of the bias and stigma

that surrounds it. Increased privacy will not solve all of their issues, but

it will offer them respect and dignity, and that means more than most

people can imagine.

Ellen hopes the community will get behind the WCGH Foundation

Emergency Challenge.

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


For more information, to suggest a challenge idea, or to make a

donation, contact the Foundation at 250-731-1370 ext. 48148 or email Donate online at

and follow us on Facebook.

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