Vernon Jubilee Hospital traces its origins back to 1897, when the original “Cottage Hospital” opened in a house on 28th Avenue. (File photo)

Vernon Jubilee Hospital celebrates 125th anniversary

Milestone draws praise from health minister, MLA

A significant milestone in the provision of medical care has been achieved by Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

This year marks the 125th anniversary of VJH’s service to the community.

In 1897, the original “Cottage Hospital” opened in a house on 28th Avenue, and health-care teams have provided treatment and care for people throughout the region ever since.

“Vernon Jubilee Hospital has been home to amazing health-care workers that have provided public health-care to generations of families in the community and the area,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

“I wish everyone involved with VJH a happy 125th anniversary and look forward to the years and decades ahead.”

Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu said being a nurse for 17 years and working alongside the VJH staff made an impression on her.

“I have seen first-hand how VJH staff go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of patients and families, even in the face of challenges,” Sandhu said.

Susan Brown, Interior Health president and CEO, added while much has changed over the past 125 years in health care, she said one constant has been the dedication of VJH staff.

“They are exemplary, and we celebrate this momentous anniversary alongside them,” said Brown.

The Cottage Hospital opened with just four staff, according to accounts in A Century of Caring 1897-1997: The Story of Vernon Jubilee Hospital, of Men and Women Who Have Made Its History by Daphne Thuillier and in Vernon News articles.

A hospital society spearheaded the purchase of the house for $2,000.

The hospital moved to its current location at 2101-32nd St. in 1909 on land donated by Samuel Polson, on the traditional unceded territory of the Syilx people.

That facility included an operating room, hot water heating and telephone service. X-ray service was added in 1912, and a laboratory was added in 1938.

Over the years, the hospital expanded its footprint and services – the North Tower opened in 1949; the Centennial Wing was added in 1968; the Polson Extended Care Annex opened in 1982; and the South Tower followed in 1983.

In 2011, the Polson Tower opened with expanded ambulatory care and outpatient clinics, new ambulance space, a new maternity and pediatrics unit with direct links to operating rooms, and new intensive care and coronary care units.

In 2016, medical inpatient units were added on the sixth and seventh floors, and in 2019 came a fifth operating room and new MRI.

Today, nearly 1,700 staff and physicians work at VJH, serving a population of about 93,720 people including First Nations communities and Métis peoples.

“Vernon Jubilee has a long, proud history – it is the heart of the community,” said Richard Harding, executive director for clinical operations in Interior Health’s North Okanagan.

“I’m especially proud of the health-care teams who provide such excellent care. The last two years of the pandemic have been challenging, but every day they gave – and continue to give – their best to patients and their families. We know from the messages we’ve received how much people are grateful for the care they’ve received from our staff and physicians.”

Harding also expressed gratitude to the community for its ongoing support of the hospital.

Interior Health continues to plan for expansion of services in the North Okanagan, and he said the cooperation of the community, including the VJH Foundation and North Okanagan Columbia Shuswap Regional Hospital District, has been vital to that work.

“Teamwork and collaboration is the key to our success,” Harding said. “We look forward to continuing to work with all our partners, including physicians and staff, the Shuswap North Okanagan Division of Family Practice, Aboriginal partners, contracted service partners and local government partners, to provide high-quality health care to everyone in the North Okanagan region.”

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