25 Years of Supporting Women’s Health

To commemorate this milestone, we compiled 25 achievements and milestones that have been made possible with the generous support of our community of donors and supporters.

Home | Impact | 25 Years of Supporting Women’s Health

25 years ago, the BC Women’s Hospital Foundation was born. Since then, our generous supporters have supported tremendous, life-changing strides in maternal and newborn care, women’s health research, breast health, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and more. Together, you have helped raise millions of dollars to support our beloved BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre.

Last year, we became the BC Women’s Health Foundation with an expanded mandate to ensure women have equitable access to healthcare when, where, and how they need it. Our renewed purpose is one of healthy women everywhere, capable of anything. 

Thank you for being part of this journey with us. Our work is far from finished, but as we look back and celebrate 25 years of impact, we also look forward to advancing women’s healthcare with you and know that we will accomplish so much more with your support. 

Here’s to 25 years of supporting women’s health and many more to come:

1.  On August 22, 1995, the BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre Foundation was established and has been championing women’s health since. 

2.  The Auxiliary to the BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre was also incorporated in 1995 under the BC Societies Act. The original Auxiliary originated in 1942 at the Grace Hospital, and members would host bake sales and tea parties to raise funds. 

Today, Auxiliary members support the Foundation through the BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre Gift Shop and Cart and through partnering with the Auxiliary to BC Children’s Hospital to form the Still Fabulous thrift stores. 

3.  In 2000, the BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre hosted the first Birdies for Babies golf tournament fundraiser to support women and newborn health. 

4.  The first Illuminations fundraising event was also hosted in 2000. Last year, the Foundation focused on the need for equal funding in women’s health research and better opportunities for women in research. 

5.  In March 2005, the Women’s Health Research Institute was established by BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre to enhance and galvanize the impact of women’s health research conducted at BC Women’s Hospital and throughout BC. Establishing the WHRI was possible thanks in large part to donor support, especially the incredible leadership demonstrated by the Ismaili Community. 

6.  BC Women’s Hospital led the way in 2005 with the construction of the first Single Room Maternity Care unit in BC. Since then, women have been able to labour, birth, recover, and care for their new babies in one room – together with their partner or family in those precious first hours of life. The provincial government provided $2.5 million, and BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre Foundation provided $1.1 million.

7.  Since 2012, the Oak Tree Peer Support Groups have been a lifeline to a caring community of support for women living with HIV/AIDS. These groups would not have been possible without the support of the MAC AIDS Fund. 

“This group brings me back to who I am…when I’m questioning things in my life, I go to that group, and it reconnects me to where I need to be, it renews the spirit, it gives us what we need to do the work that we do to make a difference.” – Peer Facilitator

8.  Baby tiles line many of the walls at BC Women’s Hospital, from the ground floor to the maternity suites and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). These commemorative tiles have been purchased and handcrafted for decades, and all proceeds support the BC Women’s Health Foundation work to advance women’s health. 

9.  The Sadie Diamond Breast Health Imaging Centre was established at BC Women’s Hospital through an investment of $3 million from the Diamond Foundation in 2011.  It was the first facility in BC to offer 3D breast screening with tomosynthesis. Tomosynthesis is a technology that takes very clear pictures from different angles and then combines them into computer-generated 3-D images. This means doctors can see the tissue of a woman’s breast from different perspectives and see more detail and can help detect breast cancer earlier.

“The key to saving lives is finding breast cancer early because that’s when most types of breast cancer are highly treatable.” – Dr. Paula Gordon, Previous Medical Director, Sadie Diamond Breast Health Imaging Centre

10.  In November 2016, the BC Women’s Indigenous Health program held a totem pole unveiling ceremony to mark the opening of its Indigenous Outdoor Sacred Healing Space, made possible through the support of the Central City Foundation. The Healing Space provides a dedicated area for women and their families to gather and carry out traditional healing ceremonies.

11.  Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women, and studies suggest that it takes up to 10 years to receive a diagnosis. The BC Women’s Hospital Centre for Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis has led groundbreaking research on symptoms and treatments, including the donor-funded research of Dr. Paul Yong.

“Painful menstrual cramps, painful sexual activity, other pelvic pain is as important a symptom to me as if someone described chest pain or shortness of breath or lower back pain” – Dr. Paul Yong, Research Director and Gynaecologist at the Centre for Pelvic Pain & Endometriosis 

12.  Through the BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre Foundation, Coast Capital Savings funded the Ask Auntie Program. This interactive program was developed for girls aged 10 to 14 to learn a holistic understanding of health, relationships, culture, colonization, and what it means to be a strong Indigenous girl.

13.  BC Women’s Hospital’s brand new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) opened its doors in October 2017. Over 4,000 donors to our Hope Starts Here Campaign contributed $17 million to help equip the new NICU with state-of-the-art equipment + technology. The NICU features 70 private rooms designed to keep premature and critically ill infants together with their families. Ten of these special rooms allow mothers to receive care alongside their newborns. BC Women’s Hospital was the first in North America to pioneer this combined care model for postpartum mothers and their newborn babies.

“The BC Women’s NICU is North America’s first purpose-built unit of its kind, where mothers receive their postpartum care in the same room, from the same NICU nurse, as their newborns who need neonatal intensive care so that these mothers and babies need not be separated after birth.” – Cheryl Davies, Chief Operating Officer, BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre.

14.  In 2018, the new Urgent Care Centre at the BC Women’s Hospital opened to triage, provide assessment, and admissions for women who are pregnant through to six-weeks post-birth. This is the only facility of its kind in Canada and was supported by a generous donation from the Lalji family.

15.  BC Women’s Hospital is proud to be home to the Provincial Medical Genetics Program, the provincial referral centre providing high-quality genetic care to the women, newborns, children, individuals, and families of BC and the Yukon. Genetic Counsellors play a crucial role in assisting families through the process of clinical diagnosis. They provide counseling to families, serve as patient advocates, and refer individuals and families to medical and community services.

Through funding from BC Women’s Health Foundation donors and funding partners from BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Provincial Health Services Authority, Genome BC, Genome Quebec, and a match from Genome Canada, a total investment of $4.2 million was made towards optimizing genetic counselling access and implementation across Canada. It is the largest known genetic counselling grant ever recorded. 

16.  Last year, BC Women’s Hospital expanded its Gynecology Daycare Surgery Program thanks to the support of the Diamond Family, long-time supporters of the BC Women’s Health Foundation. 

“The BC Women’s surgery program has helped our patients immensely because of the conscious sedation program; our patients access safe surgery quickly. The ability to have efficient access to day surgery for minor gynecologic procedures goes a long way to improve patient care for infertile women in BC.” – Dr. Beth Taylor, Olive Fertility Clinic 

17.  In 2017, the BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre Foundation facilitated a $500,000 donation from the Ministry of Children and Family Development in support of the Kangaroo Mother Care Program, an innovative skin-to-skin attachment program that has long-term benefits for both mom and baby.

“The Kangaroo Mother Care model of care means less separation for families and is a key way to help ensure these vulnerable babies get the very best start in life,” –  Adrian Dix, Minister of Health

18.  Last year, we introduced a new name, mission, and expanded mandate that matches our bold and dynamic vision for the future. Healthy women everywhere, capable of anything. As the BC Women’s Health Foundation, we strive to serve a purpose that is supported by our mission’s four key pillars: Capital + Equipment, Research + Innovation, Education + Awareness, and Advocacy. 

BC Women’s Health Foundation funding announcement, June 4, 2019. Photo by Darryl Dyck

19.  On June 4, 2019, the Honourable Ginette Pepitas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced an investment of $10 million towards supporting cervical cancer research led by Women’s Health Research Institute’s Dr. Gina Ogilvie and her team. 

20.  In Her Words: Women’s Experience with the Healthcare System in BC is the first-of-its-kind report by the BC Women’s Health Foundation in partnership with Pacific Blue Cross. Through In Her Words, we confirmed  that gender inequities exist and more specifically, 1 in 3 BC women do not feel like their healthcare needs are being met. 

21.  The Provincial Milk Bank is located at BC Women’s Hospital and supplies donor breast milk to sick and premature babies all across BC. Thanks to donors to our Milk Bank campaign last year, a brand new Milk Bank is about to open its doors and expand service to all BC neonatal intensive care and maternity units. 

“Having donor milk makes a huge difference and, in some cases, truly the difference between life and death.” – Frances Jones, Coordinator of the Provincial Milk Bank

22.  The new Cedar Birthing Suite Unit opened its doors on September 9th, 2020, to 27 new and upgraded patient rooms. In the new Unit, more expectant mothers will benefit from the Single Room Maternity Care model, a birthing model of care available for women with low-risk pregnancies, allowing them to remain in one home-like room for their entire hospital stay. The rooms have a modern, comfortable, and “home-like” feel, which creates a more relaxing, calming environment with the peace of mind that medical care is nearby, minimizing interventions during the birthing process.

23.  The Skidmore Goodman Research Lab for Women’s Health opened in September 2020 and now promotes untold levels of innovation in research + knowledge generation within women’s health. This facility encompasses two unique research centres. The PRIME Centre; an imaging research facility dedicated to developing new technology and applications that support the health of mother and baby. Next is the first Women’s Health Research Wet Lab in western Canada, generating exciting new knowledge to inform the care and treatment of women’s health issues. 

“The expertise in PRIME is incredibly unique because all the research is based on taking photos of the fetuses using different techniques, not just ultrasound…By collaborating with specialists, we present [clinicians] with new expertise, pushing us forward and unveiling high-level research on pregnant women and their fetuses.” – Dr. Denise Pugash, BC Women’s Hospital’s Diagnostic Radiologist and Fetal Imaging Specialist

“This lab will allow us to study different common women’s health conditions that need so much awareness and research. In particular, endometriosis affects 1 million individuals in Canada. In the clinic, we’ve heard so many stories of patients who expressed the difficulty with trying to conceive a child with month after month of disappointment, while at the same time they are experiencing severe pain with each period, and pain when they are trying to be intimate with their partner. We are studying inflammation around endometriosis cells, and in this new lab, we will continue our work into medications that can decrease inflammation around endometriosis that can improve pain and fertility.”Dr. Paul Yong, Research Director and Gynaecologist at the Centre for Pelvic Pain & Endometriosis

24.  In 2020, donors helped to launch the Canadian COVID-19 in Pregnancy Surveillance project. The main priority is to closely follow the outcomes of women who had COVID-19 during pregnancy and follow the information on their infants to examine their health outcomes. They are also striving to maintain this momentum as vaccine trials progress so pregnant women could potentially be vaccinated. This pan-provincial project is led by Dr. Deborah Money, Professor, Depts of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Medicine and SPPH at UBC, and researcher with the Women’s Health Research Institute.

“When international bodies started to ask what the data was showing us about COVID-19 and pregnancy, we were proud to respond as a country rather than individual researchers all over the map.” – Dr. Money

25.  The Families in Recovery (FIR) program at BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre has been a world leader since it started in 2003. It’s dedicated to helping women, and their newborns stabilize and withdraw from substances and keeping them together whenever possible. Donors helped to expand and relocate FIR to a brand new space in 2019. The new and improved facility has larger rooms to provide for more specialized care and allow moms and babies to stay together. 

“It’s just so important there’s someplace like FIR that women can go. I think it was a miracle that I found that place. It changed my life. Today I have a beautiful son who never showed any symptoms of withdrawal and is completely healthy.” – Jenny, former patient 

Thank you for supporting women’s health!


BC Women’s Health Foundation is BC’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the full spectrum of women’s health. The information shared is intended to educate, inform, and point readers to credible sources. It is not intended to substitute professional medical advice.