Massive gift from one of Canada's wealthiest philanthropists comes with perfect timing, says CEO

St. Paul’s Hospital is benefiting from the attention and support of one of Canada’s best-known and wealthiest philanthropists, and at the perfect time.

Jim Pattison has donated $75 million to St. Paul’s Hospital, just as the acute care hospital in downtown Vancouver prepares to build a new $1 billion facility over the next five years.

In a statement, Pattison said, “I am proud to donate to St. Paul’s Foundation for a hospital that has been putting people first in our community for more than 120 years.”

Pattison, who is chairman and CEO of the Jim Pattison Group, said his mother had been treated at St. Paul’s and he had his appendix removed at the hospital as a child. He praised the hospital for a “history of serving British Columbians with excellence and compassion.”

Pattison’s gift is the largest donation a private citizen has made to a single medical facility in Canadian history.

“This is truly a humbling experience,” Dick Vollet, president and CEO of St. Paul’s Foundation, told The B.C. Catholic.

The timing of the gift is “perfect,” he said. St. Paul’s Hospital announced in 2015 it had major plans to build a new hospital to the tune of $1 billion. It hopes to construct the new facility and move in by 2022.

“Having donors like Mr. Pattison coming to the forefront helps us focus on the innovative approaches to health care, the new technologies,” Vollet said.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

The new Jim Pattison Medical Centre will be built on top of an 18.4-acre site at Station Street in Vancouver. According to a press release, the centre will include St. Paul’s Hospital, the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation, the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, primary care and specialized outpatient clinics, the Providence Health Care Research institute, and other facilities.

“Jim Pattison’s gift will help us realize an exceptionally rare opportunity to build a major medical and research centre from the ground up, that will establish its place among the most highly regarded and recognized medical centres in North America,” Vollet said.

The centre will include research, teaching, and acute care all in one location, he added.

“A gift of this magnitude will have an impact today and for generations to come,” said Doctor Jeff Pike, director of clinical planning for Providence Health Care’s Redevelopment Project.

The Sisters of Providence first opened St. Paul’s Hospital with 25 beds in 1894. It is now nationally and internationally known for its efforts in heart, kidney, and HIV/AIDS care. Located in downtown Vancouver, it is also known for reaching out to the poor, drug-addicted, and vulnerable in the neighbourhood.

St. Paul’s is a member of Providence Health Care, one of Canada’s largest Catholic health-care organizations.

Pattison owns the second-largest private company in Canada and has donated to other health-care projects in the past, including a gift of $20 million to Vancouver General Hospital in 1999.