The cardiac centre at the new St. Paul’s Hospital will be named the Tong Louie Cardiac Wing in recognition of a $6.5-million donation from the Vancouver family that owns London Drugs, it was announced Tuesday.
Two charities — the London Drugs Foundation and the Tong and Geraldine Louie Family Foundation — are contributing the sum for the new hospital near Main Street and Terminal Avenue. The 124-year old hospital on Burrard Street is to be demolished after construction on the new hospital ends, in 2024 or later.
“As a 115-year-old B.C. owned and operated family company, we are proud of our lengthy history of giving back to the people of this province,” said Brandt Louie, chair of London Drugs Ltd.
“This is a proud moment for our family and we are honoured to be part of the bold, bright future of the new St. Paul’s.”
Louie said in a statement that family matriarch Geraldine Louie received exceptional care at St. Paul’s towards the end of her life and while being treated for congenital heart disease.
The donation will be used for an in-patient wing of the hospital that will be built on the False Creek Flats. The wing will be located close to imaging and diagnostic areas, operating rooms, outpatient clinics, cardiac research labs and medical offices. The design is meant to allow patient treatment and research side-by-side.
Dr. Sean Virani, the physician program director for the Heart Centre, said the donation will help recruit cardiologists and surgeons and expand care for patients. St. Paul’s is the only hospital in B.C. that performs heart transplants. Under pioneering interventional cardiologist Dr. John Webb, it has become world-famous for minimally invasive heart valve surgery.
Construction of the new hospital is not expected to begin for a few years as the City of Vancouver rezoning process is expected to take more than a year and soil remediation will require extensive work.
The B.C. government has not yet announced approval of the more than $1 billion business plan, but numerous announcements from the hospital foundation would suggest the project — first announced by the former Liberal government — will go ahead. Just over a year ago, health minister Adrian Dix said the redevelopment of St. Paul’s on the False Creek flats was one of his priorities.
It is expected the sale of the lands under the existing hospital will fund the construction of the new hospital, to which Jimmy Pattison has already pledged $75 million. While the hospital itself will still be called St. Paul’s, the campus will be called the Jim Pattison Medical Centre.
On Monday night, the foundation held an invitation-only gala event for past and future donors.
Chronology of the site where new St. Paul’s Hospital will be built:
1912-20: False Creek drained to make way for construction of railway lines. A Great Northern Railway station is built on the site, with a Canadian National Railway station, which still stands, built to the south.
1930: Great Northern Railway freight sheds occupy the south end of the site. Businesses along Prior Street include Canadian Junk Co. and a junk storage warehouse.
1956: The site is occupied by Finning Factory and the Great Northern Railway freight shed. Prior Street businesses include the United Fruit Ltd., Canadian Junk and Great West Smelting.
1966: Great Northern Railway is moved and the train station is torn down.
2000: Schroeder Properties and ING Realty Partners purchase the site for $22 million from Trillium Corp., hoping to develop the site for the high-tech and dot-com industries.
2004: A Providence Health Care-affiliated entity buys 18.5 acres from Schroeder Properties and ING Realty Partners for just over $24 million. The entire amount is financed with a bank loan.
2010: Gravel is added to reinforce and level the site for use during the 2010 Olympic Games as a parking lot for the buses that transport people between Vancouver and Whistler.
2010: The B.C. government acknowledges it has paid millions in municipal taxes to hold the site for the future hospital.
2015: Providence Health Care, which manages St. Paul’s Hospital and numerous other Catholic health facilities, announces a new $1.2 billion hospital on the new site and the eventual demolition of the old hospital in the West End.
2017: Vancouver billionaire Jimmy Pattison announces a $75 million donation to the new St. Paul’s. NDP health minister Adrian Dix says the new hospital is a high priority.
2018: Fundraising, rezoning and public consultation process begins in earnest for the new St. Paul’s.