(CL’66) Lynda – A Room of My Own

Lynda (Fallis) McKean – Class of 1966

When asked to describe her most significant memory of HSC for the 100th Anniversary of the Alumnae Association in 2003, Lynda wrote,

“The day I entered the residence as a brand new first year student in 1963 was the most exciting day for me.  I had decided to become a nurse at the age of 12 when I met my aunt Barbara Fallis (Ham) class of 56 F.  I set my goal as HSC and applied at the end of grade 12 just to make sure I was on the list.  When I got my acceptance at the end of Grade 13, it was like a dream come true.

As I opened the door to my single room (230) in Elizabeth McMaster House, I was so excited to think it would be mine for a whole 3 years.  (I grew up in the military and had never had a bedroom in one place for that long!)  It overlooked the courtyard and was bigger than any room I had ever had.”

November 15, 2010 | Posted in: Memories | Comments Closed

(CL’72A) Susan – Emergency Response to Bus Crash

Emergency Department Response to Bus Crash – Susan Clark – Class of 1972A

Graduates were asked to reflect on their time at HSC for the 100th Anniversary of the Alumnae Association in 2003.  Susan wrote the following:

“On January 26, 1979, I was the Team Leader in charge of the Emergency Department at HSC on the day shift.  The Medical Director of Emergency came to me and very calmly said, “We need to prepare for a disaster.  There has been a bus crash on Highway 400 involving a large number of high school students.  We don’t know yet how many patients we might have to take.”  My initial response was, “you’re kidding, right?”…However, this time he was serious.  Just then, we got word that two helicopters would be transporting three patients to Toronto General, using our helipad.  Fortunately, we didn’t have to put our disaster plan into effect but we did have to provide staff for the helipad for the first time to transfer critically injured patients.  We were well staffed that day and had very few patients so two other nurses and I headed up to the helipad to check supplies and check equipment.  Thank goodness there was a gap of 45 minutes between helicopters….we only had two monitors, and none to spare in Emerg in those days!  Things are different now, with one in every room!

It was a horrendous accident…several teens died.  They were on their way to a ski trip…such a tragic ending.  The three patients that were sent by helicopter had the most severe injuries…….

It was good experience for us, but considering the circumstances, not one we wanted to have to repeat.”    (Susan included pictures of the crash from the Globe and Mail of the day)

November 10, 2010 | Posted in: Memories | Comments Closed

(CL’59) Eleanor – North Bay Adventure

North Bay Adventure – Eleanor (Harris) Pask – Class of 1959

As part of the 100th Anniversary of the Alumnae celebrations, graduates were encouraged to reflect on their time at HSC and send along a memorable experience.  Ellie wrote the following:

“Miss Masten is the only reason I was able to complete nurse training.  My home was in North Bay and when I came to Toronto I left home for the first time.  I also had to leave my dog, Peter.  In my second year, Peter became very ill and we knew he would not survive.  At the time I was working in the O.R. on the night shift.  My grandmother knew how much I loved and missed Peter.  She bought me an Air Canada ticket that would allow me to go home on the 9:00 AM flight and return on the 9:00 PM flight.  That way I would arrive in time for the night shift.

About 4:00 PM in North Bay, (after I had spent the day with Peter) an ice storm started. All flights were grounded.  The only other way out was the bus.  I got on the 5:00 PM bus and 2 hours later we were in Burke’s Falls – 50 miles south.  The roads were dreadful.  With a feeling of dread I realized that I was not going to be in the O.R. for 11:15 PM.  I called one of my friends who was working evenings.  Mary had worked in the O.R. but she still had her black stockings.  She agreed to fill in for me.

We arrived in Toronto at about 1:30 AM.  I raced to the residence and, of course, could not get in.  I then raced to the hospital and found only one door open – finally.  I raced to the O.R. and Mary was scrubbed in.  I replaced her towards the end of the case.

The next morning at 7:00 I was told to report to the Nursing Office.  Miss Gibson was there and did not acknowledge my presence.  She said to the secretary, “I have to see Miss Masten about the other person in the room”.  That comment, I felt, spelled doom.  I met with Miss Masten and told her the entire story.  She listened and seemed sympathetic.  She asked about Peter and said she understood and she added, “But don’t tell Miss Gibson”.  Then I returned to the residence.  I figured my career in nursing was over.

I reported at the O.R. for the next night shift and life seemed to carry on.  Two days later at 7:15 I was told to report to the Nursing Office again.  The process was the same – my presence not acknowledged, etc and then I was called in to see Miss Masten.  She asked me about Peter and I told her that he had died the night I came back.  She said she was very sorry.  Then she said that she loved dogs too and she would have done exactly what I had done.  But then with a twinkle in her eye she said “but don’t tell Miss Gibson I said that”.

| Posted in: Memories | Comments Closed

(CL’74) Mary Lee – Training Days – A Poem

Training Days at HSC – A Poem – Mary Lee (Toole) Hunter – Class of 1974

For the 100th Anniversary of the Alumnae Association in 2003 and for a class Reunion, Marylee wrote the following poem to reflect on her time at HSC.

It’s almost thirty years ago
When my last name was Toole
I packed up Little Miss Weekender
And headed off to nursing school.

The Sick Kids Hospital Residence
Would soon be home to me.
So young, naïve and foolish
I thought that I was free.

A thought that soon would leave my mind
When Big Sisters filled with spite,
Used pots and pans to wake us,
In the middle of the night!

They taught us to swing bedpans,
To swing them to and fro,
Down corridors and hallways
And even main streets of T.O.

Clad in diapers only.
Goodbye to inhibitions,
Nothing would stop Big Sisters
From carrying on Sick Kids traditions.

Traditions were not merely
Drinking, fun and games.
Many nights we hit the books,
Not wanting to tarnish Sick Kids’ name.

Not only with the theory,
Did we study long and hard,
But clinical came early,
First week out on the wards.

We took pride in knowing Sick Kids
Got its students quickly to the floors.
Early clinical training
Is what made our skills so strong.

We learned early to do TPRs
And also do BPs
But a skill we wanted to avoid
Was the dreaded SSE!

Just because our pin said Sick Kids,
Didn’t mean we all would stay.
We could choose ANY nursing environment
After our thorough training days.

Whether we still are working,
Within Sick Kids walls or not,
Our memories of training
Are embedded in our hearts.

| Posted in: Memories | Comments Closed

(CL’56 Jan) Maria – Reminiscences

Maria (Gyorossy-Csepreghy) Kluge – Cl’56 (Jan)

Maria wrote the following reflection for the 100th Anniversary of the HSC Alumnae in 2003.  Following her death, her family initiated The Maria Gyorossy-Csepreghy Kluge Award for excellence in nursing practice and commitment to neonatal nursing.  This award is presented annually through the SickKids Foundation.

“In 1913 Sir William Osler recommended the following virtues for nurses:

Tact; Tidyness; Taciturnity; Sympathy; Gentleness; Cheerfulness; Charity

Let me tell you about Miss Masten.

As a new immigrant from Hungary in 1952 my first job was at Charles E. Frosst in Montreal.  For six months I weighed 222’s every 15 minutes on an analytical scale as the tablet-making-machine spew out THE headache pills.

To realize my long-standing ambition to become a nurse, I applied at the School of Nursing at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal.  I was refused.  Determined as I was of my goal I journeyed to Toronto to try my luck at the Hospital for Sick Children.

Miss Masten, the Director of Nursing, scrutinized my papers and documents, took a look at me and, being a woman of few words and sound decisions, said,

“Miss Csepreghy, your English is poor.  You are new to Canada and our way of life.  Not only that but you are 10 years older than our average probationer.  Our September class is very large.  Considering all this, I think you should work for a few months at our Rehabilitation Hospital in Thistletown.  We will then consider your application for the much smaller March class in 1953.  Our bus for Thistletown leaves three times a week at 1 p.m. from the corner of St. Clair and Lansdowne Avenues.  Thank you and good day.”

And that was that!

The time I spent in Thistletown gave me invaluable experience and knowledge.  Miss Masten was a very wise Director of Nursing.

Tact; Tidyness; Taciturnity; Sympathy; Gentleness; Charity

Maria with classmates, 1956

My time at “Sick Kids” were the most enlightened years of my life, giving me lifelong friends and colleagues.  I am deeply grateful to Miss Masten and to all our teachers who were so generously patient with me.  And to my classmates a great big “THANK YOU” for accepting me as one of your own and even being your “Granny”!  And thank you for lavishing so much affection and friendship on me.”

| Posted in: Memories | Comments Closed

(CL’72A) Donna – Serious Fire of 2001

Serious Fire of 2001 – Donna (Shantz) Cameron – Cl’72A

In 2003 when Donna and other graduates were asked to share favourite memories of HSC for the 100th Anniversary of the Alumnae, she was still working at Sick Kids in the Poison Centre.  Her problem, she said, was not one of remembering the past but rather choosing which experiences to share.  At that time she had 34 years of memories to draw on. As of November 2010 Donna continues to work in the Poison Centre at SickKids.

Her original submission has been edited here for length.  Thanks for sharing these memories, Donna.

Donna writes, “HSC has been good to me over the years; I am still proud to work there.  I enjoy my job in the Poison Centre very much, although it is certainly not traditional nursing.  I spent several years at HSC on 6C (medical), Emergency and then the ICU.  I am proud to work at one of the best paediatric hospitals in the world…………………..I feel a sense of pride when the media reports that the a child has been taken to the Hospital for Sick Children.  My colleague’s child had emergency surgery this year at HSC and she said “the care was 110 percent from the time we came in the door to ten days later when we left.”  I realize this is not always the case, but staff does strive for excellence.”

“I grew up on a farm near Elora, Ontario, so moving to downtown Toronto was exciting and also frightening for me.  Fortunately, I met a friendly girl on the street outside the front entrance of the Elizabeth McMaster building who was also moving into residence.  (This girl) was to become one of my best friends, and we still see each other regularly.”

“I have memories of going back and forth through the tunnel from the hospital and cafeteria to the residence.  We all helped ourselves to the doctors’ OR scrub suits.  We lounged and studied in those jumpsuits.  I do remember getting into trouble though.  We were having a class party and were moving the piano from the basement to our floor.  The elevator was packed with students and the piano.  I happened to be at the front and I can still remember the lady at the desk crossly saying in her Scottish brogue, “Miss Shantz, come here!”  I can’t remember her exact words, but I had to get off the elevator, walk across the floor to the front desk and face her wrath.”

Donna goes on to tell us about a crisis at the hospital that occurred on January 9, 2001.  There was a serious fire in the hospital when a Toronto hydro vault exploded under the receiving area.

Donna writes, “The following, as background, is taken from This Week, HSC’s weekly newsletter:

Fire engines screamed towards the hospital and began what turned out to be a two-hour battle with what one fireman described as the most intense fire he had ever seen.  At times, the flames shot as high as the third story of the Elm Wing.

By 6:30 pm, intense, dark smoke began to infiltrate the Atrium and a Code Red became a Code Green – Evacuation.  Parents and visitors were quickly ushered from the building and patient care staff began to move patients.  More emergency help arrived from the Toronto Police Services, Ambulance Services and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)…

The smoke was heaviest on the south side of the building – Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU), Critical Care (CCU), and Units C and D…the north sided units were much less affected.

The NICU, staff quickly decided that the nine babies on ventilators should be moved to safety in the NICU at Mt Sinai.  The tunnels that usually link the buildings were inaccessible because of smoke.  Babies were loaded into a waiting TTC bus and a few others were pushed across the street – each with nurses, physicians and an escort of Toronto Police.

The CCU staff sent an advance team to the Post Anesthetic Care Unit and quickly set it up to receive the patients from the CCU…evacuation of the CCU took 20 minutes.  One child who was on ECMO was left in the CCU with his physician and nurse, the decision made that he would only be evacuated if absolutely necessary.

On other floors, children were moved to the north side of the building by staff and physicians.

All the patients were safe throughout and there were no injuries…one security guard briefly visited Toronto General Emergency for smoke inhalation but was released the same evening.”

Donna continues, “I was with my colleagues in the Poison Centre, when the evacuation alarm began to ring.  We were on the 7th floor in the Gerrard Wing, so after forwarding our calls to the Ottawa Poison Centre, we made a hasty exit down the darkened staircase.  When we reached the main floor, the glass enclosed Atrium had thick smoke throughout it.

Since we had no patients, we went up the smoke-filled stairway in the Atrium to help move beds laterally to the north wing.  The seriousness of the event was apparent when there were firefighters at the nursing stations on the units.  Nurses’ eyes were quite red from the irritating smoke.

I remember watching a movie during our training where we were taught that in the event of a fire, we should place several babies on a blanket and drag it.  These days, with all the equipment, this is impractical.  During the HSC fire, I saw an intubated preemie being carried down the steps, being bagged, with 4-5 staff members assisting with all the equipment and lines.  Pictures in the media showed babies in isolettes being pushed across University Avenue, each with several health care professionals in attendance.

Since the explosion occurred close to change of shift in the evening, the day shift was still present, and the night shift was arriving.  All nurses and doctors going up the stairs had their names recorded, so there was documentation of who was in the building.  I felt very emotional as I saw nurses and doctors running up the stairs in the thick smoke to their patients.

The nurse and doctor who stayed with the patient in the CCU who could not be moved are to be commended.  I had walked through that area with a colleague en route to help in another unit and the smoke was very thick, requiring us to cover our noses and mouths.

After patients had been moved, my colleagues and I went to the emergency department where anxious parents were forced to wait.  They had not been allowed to go upstairs in the building, so we tried to keep them up to date on their children.  We called the floors to confirm the location of the children and were able to inform the parents that they had been safely moved to another wing.

When I arrived home later that evening and watched the news on television I realized how massive the fire had been.  There were huge columns of thick black smoke billowing from the hospital.  As reported in This Week, “Everyone marveled at the calm and professional manner in which the entire hospital staff rose to the occasion.”

| Posted in: Memories | Comments Closed

(CL’63) Arlene – Three Memorable Experiences

Three Memorable Experiences at HSC – Arline (McDonald) Tyson Class ‘63

Graduates were asked to reflect on their most memorable experiences at HSC for the Alumnae’s 100th Anniversary in 2003.  A booklet was assembled at that time and parts of Arline’s reflections were used to round out the story of the Alumnae Association.  Here is her reflection in full.  Arline wrote:

“I had many memorable experiences during my training at HSC.  Here are just three special memories that I’ll never forget.  From the time that I was still a small child, I was going to be a nurse for children, so that I could wear a cape!  It was such a privilege to train at HSC.  However, not every shift was a happy one.  Some days were just plain draining.

I was just a new graduate, and my assignment that day was to be in charge of all treatments and medications for the ward.  As I walked down the hall, I passed by the room of a little two-year-old girl.  She was dying of biliary atresia.  There was just no cure.  Her parents were young, and they couldn’t cope with their daughter’s severe illness.  They rarely came to visit.  Peering in the door of her single room, where she was alone, a little voice inside me said, “Go in, pick her up.”  I walked in and lifted her little body out of her crib, and gently held her in my arms.  She died just a few minutes later.  God didn’t mean for her to die alone in there.  I’m just so glad that I was there for her.

After a year of hands-on training at HSC, it was my turn to work at TGH, on a male medical ward.  Before working with adults, we had several classes covering all aspects of “Nursing Your Adult Patient”.  One of those classes was all about the ‘bed bath’.  Bathing children was never a problem for me.  However, giving an adult patient his bed bath posed some problems.  What if that adult male patient could not “finish” his own bath?  What would you do then?  We were told in class that you could request the male orderly on the ward to do this for you.  The first day went relatively well. The first adult patient was a young guy with Guillain-Barre Syndrome.  He was very much alert, but was paralyzed, from the neck down.  When it came time to “finish” his bath, I called in an orderly to do it.  I just breathed a sigh of relief, and went on with my other work.  I had the same patient the next day.  But, when I offered to fetch the orderly to “finish” the bath, he said, “That’s OK, you can do it this time.”  I was mortified!  This young man was very alert, and watched with great amusement, as I went red in the face, then “finished” his bath.  My thoughts, after that experience, were – “I think I will stick to children.”

Another adult experience at TGH was on a female ward.  The beds were quite narrow, with several lined up in a row.  Every unit consisted of a night table, one chair, and those “skinny” little beds.  My grossly overweight patient had recently suffered a major stroke and was paralyzed, on her right side.  I completed her bed bath and then needed to change her bed.  How was I going to do this?  This woman must have weighed in at 300+ pounds and barely fit on the bed.  I asked her if she could possibly put her weight over on her good left side then gradually slip onto the chair which was right next to the bed.  I would then help her move further into this chair, so that I could make her bed properly.  I just don’t know what I was thinking!!  How could I ever begin to support this  lady?  I weighed only 110 pounds myself.  She maneuvered herself over to the side of thee bed, and I then proceeded to help her toward the chair.  At that particular point, we just both began to laugh.  She missed the chair because I just couldn’t begin to hold her up and her left side wasn’t strong enough to help herself.  We both laughed so hard, as she continued to slip down, and land “gently” on the floor.  I went to the Head Nurse to ask for help.  It took every nurse on the ward (all 6 of us) to get this lady back into that chair, then into her finished bed.  Next time I asked for help before trying to move a patient.”

| Posted in: Memories | Comments Closed

(CL’55) Hope – Remembering the Early Years of Open Heart Surgery

For the 100th Anniversary of the Alumnae Association in 2003, graduates were asked to reflect on their most memorable experiences at HSC.  Hope Hurlbut, Class ’55 wrote the following:

“I remember when I was in third year of nurses training I was asked to go and ‘special’ one of Dr. Mustard’s heart patients.  Previously, when I was in the O.R., I had helped prepare the monkey’s lungs for one of his open heart surgeries, but every time he operated the child died.

On the day in question the child had already spent 24 hours in the recovery room and was stable enough to be transferred to a ward, the first child to survive open heart surgery for such a long time.  Dr. Mustard would not operate unless he felt the child had two weeks or less to live.  This particular child was two years old but was so poorly oxygenated that she had never been awake for more than 4 hours in every 24.

As I worked with her, doctors from all over the city came in to visit and see this “miracle child”.  Once when Miss Masten came in she said, “Miss Hurlbut, you must be very proud.  Today you are making history.”

I really did feel proud of Dr. Mustard.  He had worked so hard and kept modifying his techniques.  Up to that point he had experienced 100% failure in his open heart surgeries.  He was a real pioneer and just kept at it as he was sure the next one would live.  He never seemed to lose heart and would be in and out of the recovery room after every “successful” surgery to check the child’s vital signs, knowing that even though the surgery was technically successful, the child’s body might not stand up to the trauma of surgery.  It was an exciting time to be at Sick Kids.”

October 18, 2010 | Posted in: Memories | Comments Closed

(CL’67) Eleanor – The Journey

As part of the 100th Anniversary of the Alumnae celebrations in 2003, graduates were asked to reflect on their time at HSC.  Eleanor (Brackenridge) Low, Class ’67, wrote the following:

“My most significant memory of HSC?  That’s a tough one.  My first memory of HSC is that of a young 4-year-old patient, walking down a long ward in the old College St Hospital.  There were children in cots along both sides and it seemed to go on for miles.  I was being taken to a small cupboard-sized room where I was to have an ECG.  I remember a small rubber doll suspended over the table – to amuse the patients, I suppose:  I remember being cold and frightened, but more importantly I remember the kindness of the nurse who was with my parents and me.  The year was 1949.  I had a congenital cardiac defect and this meant we had to travel to Toronto from my home in Ottawa every year until, finally, the doctors felt they had developed the capability of repairing my Ventricular Septal Defect.

I know now that I was very lucky to have survived at all.  I was 14 years old in 1958: Drs J. Keith and W. Mustard and a yet-to-be-perfected heart lung pump controlled my fate.  As Dr Trussler later wrote, “we were sailing very deep waters in very small boats”.  A second procedure in 1961 secured my future, despite my suffering a potentially lethal side effect from the pump.  No, as much as I appreciated everyone’s efforts on my behalf, I headed home to Ottawa with no plans to return to HSC any time soon!  I was finally going to get the chance to live a ‘normal’ life.

Time works in mysterious ways.  Only a few years passed before I was struck (and I mean ‘struck’ as in ‘hit by lightning’) with the notion that I must become a nurse.  I applied in secret to the Hospital for Sick Children School of Nursing, afraid I would be rejected because of my fairly recent surgery.  I thought everyone would count me out.  What if she gets sick?  What if she can’t stand the strain?  I remember writing a heart felt letter to those in charge, basically begging for a chance to prove I was good enough.  So I guess for me the most memorable moment at HSC was the day I opened my acceptance letter and finally shared my secret with Mom and Dad.

Of course, this was followed by hundreds of memorable moments during training and afterwards as I worked in ICU.  The warmth, caring and compassion I experienced at Sick Kids as a patient, at the hands of talented doctors and nurses, and as a graduate nurse will always fill my heart with pride and joy. Thirty-six years (as of 2003) later, I carry the Hospital for Sick Children, and everything I learned and experienced there, with me every day as I continue to work in nursing.  

Once while I was working in ICU, Dr Mustard took me aside to ask how I was doing.  He confided that after he had placed a patch over my VSD he was faced with repairing my “floppy” tricuspid valve.  “I just took a big tuck in it and hoped to hell it would hold.”  Well it has and I’m hoping for many more miles out of that ‘patch and tuck’!

(Note:  Eleanor continued to work in nursing, spending her last 20 years in palliative care.  She retired in Sept 2009 after 42 years)

| Posted in: Memories | Comments Closed