Langley Memorial Hospital officially opened its new maternity unit Tuesday, with a new name thanks to a sizeable donation from a local family.
The Vanderkerkhove Family Maternity Centre was named in honour of a $1 million contribution.
The expansion and renovation has added seven additional single-room maternity care spaces, bringing the total to 20 at the hospital.
The project also brought the maternity clinic next to the ward, so patients will not have to travel throughout the hospital, and so services for newborns and their mothers are all in one central location.
The $6.5 million project was mostly funded not by Fraser Health, but by the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation.
The foundation provided $5.35 million, and Fraser Health paid $1.15 million.
The health authority also provided funding for a variety of other related projects such as electrical and seismic upgrades.
“The It All Starts Here! campaign brought together our entire community,” said Richard McMullan, chair of the board of the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation. “The foundation would like to thank the many donors, sponsors, partners and volunteers who supported our campaign and made this project a reality. Our new maternity centre is something we can all take pride in – we now have specially designed spaces and the equipment necessary to meet the needs of our growing community.”
At the official ribbon cutting and opening, Fraser Health officials mingled with local politicians, donors, and a family that has gotten a lot of use out of the maternity ward already.
Marianne McGill and her husband and five children were on hand to welcome the arrival of the expanded ward.
McGill is currently waiting for the arrival of her sixth and, she joked, her last baby if her husband gets his way, at LMH.
The expansion makes LMH one of just four hospitals in the Fraser Health area that provide independent rooms for all its maternity ward patients.
This is the latest in a series of upgrades to maternity care in Langley that began even before the community had its own hospital.
A nurse named Louisa Craig was apparently the first or one of the first people to establish a maternity clinic, opening it in her house south of the Little Campbell River. Dr. Benjamin Marr would attend patients there, said Loraine Jenkins, executive director of maternity, infant and youth care for Fraser Health.
The clinic closed down in 1922 having run about 15 years, and by then other women had also opened maternity beds in their homes.
When Langley Memorial opened in the 1940s, it had 11 maternity beds.
The increasing number of maternity beds and the drive to improve services is because of the large number of births expected in the future.
Jenkins said there were 1,500 babies born at LMH in the last year, and Fraser Health expects the number to increase by 18 per cent by 2020.
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