Chair of the Foundation Board, Art Reitmayer
Chair of the Foundation Board, Art Reitmayer

Health Vision for South Surrey White Rock

In 1951, a gift of over five acres in White Rock resulted in the opening of the White Rock and District Hospital in 1954. Over sixty-two years the Peace Arch Hospital has become a critical resource for the Semiahmoo Peninsula and with the help of the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation working with Fraser Health and the Hospital Auxiliary, the Hospital is about to undergo a major expansion in the face of an exploding population in the area.

The Emergency Department (ER) built to treat 20 thousand people per year, is seeing 50 thousand and there isn’t enough room. Complicating this is the shortage of acute care beds, as many are occupied by long-term patients. To alleviate that problem, a new Residential Care facility and a Hospice are being built at the same time.

Over the coming weeks, Ray Hudson will speak with board members, the ER medical staff and an Auxiliary member who was there at the beginning.

Art Reitmayer, is the Chair of the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation. He’s at the helm as the hospital is beginning this major expansion.

Peace Arch HospitalReitmayer: We have a team building on the work of previous boards that have allowed us to progress to this point. Our directors are very special people in this community because they participate both financially and as volunteers. By contributing both their time and their money, we ensure that what we’re advancing is really in the best interest of everybody, and is backed up by the directors.

We work to a broad vision, in partnership with the Fraser Health Authority, to a master concept plan or site plan for this hospital to deal with the additional strain of population growth. A number of years ago the fifth and sixth floor was replenished, with a significant investment, for maternity. What you are seeing now is the dramatic expansion of the Emergency Department and the concurrent construction of a Residential Care and Hospice facility. The total value is $65 million, $15 million is from the Foundation, and we are going to raise additional monies for the Residential Care and Hospice project.
Both the Board and the Staff see the projects as closely linked because individuals who should really be in alternate levels of care are occupying acute care beds, and so we wanted to ensure that the ER expansion creates capacity by clearing some of those beds in the acute care area.

The Residential Care and Hospice includes 200 beds, 112 residential care, 73 for geriatric mental health and substance abuse and 15 hospice beds. From a cost effective point an acute care bed costs four to five times as much as a residential care bed.
With respect to the hospice, there’s a huge need for a proper respectful hospice facility in this community. This is the last point for most individuals. You want it to be home-like and sensitive to the needs of the family. Currently we have seven beds on the sixth floor but they’re hospital rooms, not designed for that purpose. The new facility will be a more home-like environment where a family can spend extended times, with a lot of facilities for family members such as laundry and showers. They will be able to take meals with their family members where it’s quiet. There will be gardens where they can sit or even roll out the bed if they want to.

Hudson: What else are you looking at for fund raising?

Reitmayer: We have committed to around $1 million per year, for necessary equipment such as colonoscopy scopes, and a digital x-ray unit at $850 thousand. A few years ago, the Foundation funded $3 million for the MRI, and Fraser Health provided the people to operate it.
Finally, our foundation does well at getting in front of health care by building Healthier Communities. Hospitals can’t do it all and if we can encourage people to live healthier lives we should be able to make a difference, as did the Center for Active Living, a $4 million plus project, that we did a few years ago. Facilitating healthier lifestyles is a key part of our initiative as well.

Next week, the changing demographic of the peninsula requires different approaches. For more information please go to