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Celebration salutes 60 years of medical care provided at Salmon Arm hospital

Hospital lauded for continuing advancements in top-notch care by B.C. health minister
It was not unusual for the late Dr. Eve Gulliford to ride to Shuswap Lake General Hospital to practise medicine. (Image contributed)

Staff and physicians gathered in the cafeteria of Shuswap Lake General Hospital (SLGH) on Oct. 16 for a celebratory tea and historical photo display to mark the facility’s 60th birthday.

“I offer my congratulations to the health-care teams who have, for generations, provided top-notch quality care at Shuswap Lake General Hospital,” said Minister of Health Adrian Dix. “The hospital has a fascinating history of ground-breaking work and pioneering physicians. Today we celebrate the 60 years of expert medical care provided by SLGH for people throughout the Shuswap and North Okanagan.”

Opened in 1958, SLGH is a 43-bed hospital that offers surgical and obstetric services, as well as a 24-hour emergency department. It also features an on-site laboratory, medical imaging, mental health and public health services.

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With approximately 600 employees, the hospital plays an important role as a major employer in the region. It is common for families to have multiple generations working at SLGH.

One particularly inspiring family is that of Sarah (Eve) Reid, a critical care nurse, who has worked in a variety of departments at SLGH since 2007, and her sister Casey Gulliford who works at the hospital as a unit clerk.

They are proud to walk in the footprints of their grandmother Dr. Eve Gulliford – Salmon Arm’s first female physician and a strong community advocate until her death in 1997.

“She was a strong, intelligent and passionate woman. She would say she had lived three lifetimes in one,” says Reid.

As a young girl, Gulliford was not allowed to finish high school. Instead, she helped run the family’s tugboat company. But after caring for her parents, who developed cancer at the same time, she decided to pursue a career in medicine.

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She went back to high school at age 24 and was one of four female graduates from Queens University in 1950. With five children in tow, she moved to Salmon Arm in 1956 and began working as an anesthetist at the original Cottage Hospital where nurses still hung sheets out on the line to dry and admitting patients to the second floor involved carrying them upstairs on a stretcher as there was no elevator.

When the new, modern SLGH hospital opened across “Little Lake” (McGuire Lake) in 1958, Gulliford continued to work diligently, often commuting to work on her horse.

She was chair of the medical staff and a vital member of the surgical team. In fact, she would continue seeing some long-term patients in her home practice until she herself died at age 80.

SLGH continues to grow and develop, largely in part to the active Shuswap Hospital Foundation and the continued support of the community.

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May 2010 marked completion of a $24.7-million redevelopment project that included renovations to expand several areas of the hospital, including the lab and pharmacy as well as the emergency department, medical imaging, physiotherapy, and office space for a variety of services such as diabetes education and dietitians.

“Over the years there have been a lot of changes, but one thing has always been consistent and that is the dedication of the staff and physicians to the patients in their care,” says Interior Health Board Chair Doug Cochrane. “Congratulations to everyone at SLGH, and thank you for making it a special place.”


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This historical photo shows the former Shuswap Lake General Hospital which is now the site of two apartment buildings. (Photo contributed)