7. The Opening of the Centre for Nursing and the Establishment of the Signy Hildur Eaton Chair in Paediatric Nursing Research Oct 1997

Excerpts of an article written in “Alumnae News” Spring 1998 by Eleanor Pask Cl’59

A very impressive ceremony was held in the Garden patio at HSC on October 23, 1997.  Presentations were made by Mr. Michael Strofolino, President and CEO of HSC; Dr. Jean Reeder, Chief of Nursing; Dr Dorothy Pringle, Dean of the Faculty of Nursing, U of T; Mr. Jeff Baine, chairman RN Council; Mr. John Craig Eaton, Chairman of Eatons, and Dr. Eleanor Pask, HSC Nursing Alumnus.

The following is the text of the presentation given by Eleanor Pask on behalf of the HSC Nursing Alumnae.  Eleanor had been asked to speak about the past.

“…….Today is about Nursing Excellence and creating a centre to foster excellence.  I would applaud the efforts of Dr. Reeder and those who have worked so diligently to bring nursing at HSC to this very impressive stage and to make this Centre a reality.  I also express my gratitude, on behalf of the HSC Nursing Alumnae to the members of the Eaton family for their extraordinary generosity.

But, I would like to suggest that since that day in 1875 when Elizabeth McMaster and her dedicated group of women rented an 11 room house for $320 a year, set up 6 iron cots and declared the hospital to be open for admission and treatment of all sick children that nursing at HSC has always been about excellence.

Nursing at HSC has reflected the ravages of history, not only of the city of Toronto, but of society in general.  What have nurses at HSC seen and done?

  • Polio epidemics where children in iron lungs filled the infectious ward
  • Cared for children through a small pox epidemic in 1919 that closed the hospital
  • Nursed children with typhoid fever and other infectious diseases that we don’t even think about any more – but HSC nurses were there – front and centre
  • Cared for the first children to receive transplants – kidney, heart, liver, cornea, heart-lung, bone marrow
  • Nurses were instrumental in the OR when the first Mustard procedure was done, the first Salter procedure…..and so forth

I would go so far as to suggest that for every medical and surgical breakthrough at HSC somewhere there was a nurse.  In fact, I am quite positive that was the case.

Until its closing in 1974, over 2500 nurses graduated from the School of Nursing at HSC.  Nearly 1400 nurses constitute our Alumnae.

I wanted to capture how the nurses felt, so I reviewed newsletters and the correspondence we had received for the newsletter.  I can sum up their feelings by saying unequivocally that they are a proud lot.  They are tremendously proud to have been a part of the history of HSC.  The hospital has been a very important part of their lives and they frequently refer to their close relationship with it.

Since 1974 nurses who worked at HSC came from a multiplicity of educational backgrounds and this diversity further enriched nursing.

Nurses at HSC have been leaders in public health, school education, premature infant care, in meeting the needs of bereaved parents and in nursing research.  In the 1980’s we had a very impressive nursing research department and with this Chair, Nursing research will attain its proper perspective.

Nurses at HSC have always been resilient, moving with changes in health care and society.  Their contributions to the nursing care of children and families are unequalled in the world.  Now nursing will change again as the Centre for Nursing Excellence becomes a reality.”

Note.  The Centre of Nursing Excellence, which is located in room 4734 in the Atrium was dedicated at the same ceremony as the establishment of the Chair.

November 12, 2010 | Posted in: The Hospital | Comments Closed

6. The Hospital For Sick Children Opens Its New Doors In 1993

Article in “Alumnae News“, Spring 1993

The years of planning, fundraising, construction, waiting and everything else that goes along with a new building culminated in the spectacular opening of the new patient care centre, the Atrium.

The Atrium 1993

The seventh home of the hospital took nearly 7 years to build at a cost of  $232 million – but it is completely paid for!Today HSC is the largest children’s hospital in North America.  It employs more than 400 staff and enjoys an international reputation for nursing, treatment, research and patient care.

The Atrium has a capacity for 574 beds, but only 450 will be used initially. Each year nearly 20,000 children are admitted to the hospital and over 260,000 visit the clinics.The atrium design was chosen because it is a less expensive and more functional use of space; the natural light provides a cheerful atmosphere and helps promote the healing process; and more patient rooms could be built because the windows overlook the atrium.  Previously rooms only looked out of the exterior of the building.

Every child’s room has a day bed for a parent to remain comfortably overnight, a full private washroom, storage space for both the child’s and parent’s clothing, a private T.V. and a private phone.  Every room looks outside or into the Atrium.  Single rooms were chosen: to provide privacy for the child and family; to allow families to remain as a unit; to maintain as normal a family routine as possible; to enable parents to be involved with their child’s care; and help with infection control. Children who are repeatedly admitted or hospitalized for long periods of time have an opportunity to select pictures for their wall from a binder.  This art is by contemporary artists of Canadian children’s books.

Everything is new and it is difficult to capture it all.  There are 14 new operating rooms, a new imaging department, 12 bone marrow transplant rooms, a new Emergency Department and four playrooms on most floors.

A few interesting “did you know” facts have been disclosed: there is enough telephone cable to reach Kapuskasing; there are more private washrooms (approximately 400) than Buckingham Palace; and there is enough hydro power to light up a town of  2000 homes.

Sick Kids – we’re proud of you!



5. Fifty Years Ago at HSC – Barb Fleming – 1993

Article appears in “Alumnae News” Spring 1993.

(Barb wrote this reflection as the hospital was about to open its newest patient care wing, The Atrium on Elizabeth directly behind 555 University Ave)

The “new” HSC formally opened its doors January 15, 1951 at 2:00 PM.  The event was attended by R.A. Laidlaw, Chairman of the board, Mayor Hiram McCalum and Premier Leslie Frost.

“The Hospital That Friends Built” represented an investment of $12,500,000.  Its 13 stories were to become the world’s major research and treatment centre for children’s diseases.  It could house 632 inpatients and had the largest out patient department in the world.

Some of the Alumnae will remember the impact of television and noiseless light switches in the new HSC!

The move from the College Street Hospital which had served children from 1892 – 1951 was so well orchestrated that the entire move took less than 4 hours.  The children were transferred by wheelchairs, cabs, ambulances and volunteers and the team work between the police, the hospital staff and the volunteers was inspiring.

Noel (McKim) Duncan (class of ’51) remembers:

  • A sunny mid-winter January morning
  • The excitement on the long ward of Boys’ Medical, starting before breakfast, and building every moment, until it was time for each child to be bundled in blankets and caps, wheeled or carried down to waiting cars
  • Watching the cavalcade leave, people lined the sidewalks, dignitaries formally dressed assisting and overseeing the departures, much like proper hosts, saying their goodbyes

I put on my cape, almost the last one to leave and walked alone down Elizabeth Street to report in on a new ward with entirely changed surroundings.

By the time the noon meds were needed, it was discovered that the Narcotic Record Book had been left behind and I was dispatched to return to the old ward and fetch it.

I deliberately went in the front door, off college Street, and slowly walked up the wide stone steps, past the beautiful stained glass window and along the main hall.  I knew I would never have the chance to be there again and to look around and experience my feelings.

No one saw me as I walked along the deserted ward, past empty beds – an already melancholy quietness.  There was one shoe lying half into the aisle and the sun shone on it.  I knew it was a moment that was etched in my life.

I went into the tiny, windowless, darkened treatment room and collected the Narcotics book and pulled myself away.

Thelma (Raaflaub) Short (class of ’52 remembers:

  • I was a student nurse on the infant ward on moving day
  • Each infant/child was bundled, tagged with his or her name, ward, room and bed number
  • We waited to be picked up at the Elizabeth Street door by taxi.  Two nurses and two infants were taken to the new hospital
  • I have a vivid memory of being told not to leave the infants’ sides until Dr. Alan Brown, the Physician-in-chief, and his entourage had personally checked each child
  • No staff or student was allowed to have the day off and everyone felt so responsible.  The move went without a hitch.

Margaret Pozner and young patient wearing her cap

Marg (Nesbitt) Pozner (class of ’45) remembers:

  • The move went like clockwork.  A lot of planning and work was done by Jean Masten who directed much of the activity
  • The thrill of excitement of moving onto a brand new hospital was a high point in my life at HSC
  • Open house on January 15, 1951 brought lines and lines of people waiting outside around the block on University Avenue.  They all wanted a glimpse of the “Hospital That Friends Built.”

4. Reflections on the Move to 555 University Ave – Dr. E.A. Morgan – 1951

Excerpts from address by Dr. E.A. Morgan to the Graduating Class May 1951

From “The Alumnae News” 1952

“………….Great changes have occurred since the last graduating exercises.  We have moved into a wonderful new hospital but the change has been attended by mixed emotions and many of us feel as though we have left our hearts behind in the old building.  We have traded comparative squalor for spotless cleanliness but if I ever see a cockroach in the new building I think I will embrace it.  Instead of a building that was a veritable firetrap but which rarely had occasion to turn in a fire alarm, we now occupy a completely fireproof building to which the Fire Department is summoned once a moth.  We have traded cramped quarters for boundless space but possibly at the expense of an increased incidence of fallen arches.  We have traded one elevator, often out of commission but doing nobly its duty, for six elevators on whom the mantle of mechanical disruption has apparently fallen leaving them merely struggling.

………The atmosphere in the old hospital as I knew it as an interne was quite different from that of the present one.  Miss Brent – a combination of a stern disciplinarian and a very lovable character was superintendent of the hospital, superintendent of nurses and superintendent of the interne staff.  Philandering of any kind was stamped out as a venomous snake.  The real detective work fell to the lot of the night supervisor, who used to wear rubber soled shoes; it would not surprise me to learn that her activities were responsible for the coining of the word “sneakers”.

….(Dr Morgan concludes with these important words)…….”We are in imminent danger of becoming a scientific, efficient and soul-less institution where intimate personal contact with the patient, such as we enjoyed in the old building, may be lost.  An atmosphere of home, embodying as it does an aura of security, friendliness and motherly sympathy is a tremendous therapeutic factor in restoring health to a sick and temporarily homeless child.  It will fall to the lot of the nurses more than to any other branch of the professional staff to see that such an atmosphere becomes a reality so that we may all progress with hope and confidence towards the goal we have all prayed for – that of doing the most good to the greatest number in the shortest space of time.”

3. Looking Back and Preparing for the Move – J. Masten – 1950

Report to the Graduating Class of June 13, 1950

Note:  This article appears in the 1950 edition of “The Alumnae News”.  It provides a wonderful overview of life and times at HSC as staff plan for their upcoming move from College Street (1892 – 1951) to 555 University Avenue.  Many graduates will remember this transition, the rest of us will cherish our training and working days in the new hospital.  Some of us saw the addition of the Elm Street Wing, New ICU, and ultimately the addition of the Atrium patient care tower on Elizabeth St in 1993.

“Our Superintendent of Nurses, Miss Jean I. Masten, has become as versatile as Florence Nightingale was reputed to have been!  Not only does she keep the School on a steady keel throughout these testing times of uncertainty regarding the move to the new building, but she herself (if she had the time) could apply for her engineer’s papers, plumbing license, drafting diploma, architect’s assistantship, and degree in hospital management with a major in Ordering Equipment Which Is Advertised But Rarely Available.

Thus, as she speeds by with scrolls of blue prints under her arm, we the Editors hesitate to ask her to take the time to write a special message for you this year.  However, we have been able to obtain a copy of the Sixty Fourth Annual report which she presented at the Graduation Exercises on June 13, 1950, and with her permission are reprinting herewith certain excerpts which we know will interest you.

Jean Masten

“……Some of the things that have been accomplished during the fifty-eight years that the old building has sheltered the hospital and the school.

When the present hospital was opened in 1892, seven nurses had graduated from the School.  During the ensuing fifty-eight years, 1288 nurses have received their training under this roof, including the thirty-seven members of tonight’s graduating class.  We believe we shall have a more substantial representation to move from the old to the new building later this year.

The two names that stand out in connection with the present building are of course those of John Ross Robertson, almost synonymous with the Hospital for Sick Children, and Louise Brent, Superintendent of the Hospital and the Nursing School from 1896 – 1913.  This was the era of great benefactors and great nursing pioneers and the Hospital for Sick  Children was wonderfully blessed in the team work of these two exceptional people who laid down the foundations for the Hospital and the Nursing School as solid and honest as the Credit Valley Stone, on which our staunch old building stands.

Miss Brent increased the nursing course from two years to three, established the first preliminary training school in Canada, established a short course for Nursery Aides, and was an outstanding figure in the Canadian Society of superintendent of Training Schools.  She also ran the entire organization.  Meanwhile, Mr. Robertson provided advanced facilities by building the finest nurses’ residence in the country and yearly making possible the addition of new hospital services and necessary alterations.

It is inspiring to read of these early and progressive years and the vision that inspired our predecessors.  Perhaps our greatest responsibility and challenge will be to carry over from the old to the new all those qualities of heart and brain established so soundly by these two as well as by the outstanding surgeons, physicians and nurses who, throughout the years, have built up our present hospital.

After the opening of the country Branch (at Thistletown), the Course for Nursery Aides was chiefly carried out there.  However, within the last few years the Provincial Government has set up an excellent course to train nursing assistants, and in view of this our course was discontinued last year.  At the same time we were approached by the Provincial authorities responsible for nursing education, and asked to extend our already large affiliate programme.  We therefore agreed to make certain alterations at Thistletown and accept a continuous rotation of twenty nurses for eight weeks experience on the wards there.  These students spend the last four weeks of their affiliation at the City Hospital.  ………………

A great deal of time has been spent during the year by members of the graduate staff in considering equipment and nursing methods for the new building.  It is impossible to realize beforehand how much detail must go into the selection of waste disposal units, paper towel containers, linen carries and such rather humdrum requirements, quite apart from the important pieces of hospital furniture and equipment.  Closely associated with this work has been Mr. Donald Long, the Head of the Carpentry Department, without whose inventive genius and technical skill infinitely less could have been achieved.  I think we all find it a tonic to go over to the new building and see the space, air, and sunlight on the ward floors, especially since the painting has begun.

No radical changes have been made in the student programme during the year, but some improvements in the integration of theory and practice have been achieved.  Facilities for experience in the nursing care of children together with a teaching programme (is provided for) student nurses from seven city and twenty-two schools in the Province. ………The teaching programme is carried on continuously throughout the year by the physicians and surgeons in addition to various types of nursing instruction…….We are looking forward to bettering our teaching in the new building.

Each year I am confronted with the difficulty of finding words to express my appreciation of the work carried on by the nursing staff.  The demands on their patience, strength, and skill continually increases, and yet they provide throughout the hospital the cushion that absorbs the sharp impact, serves the public and the medical staff, and most important of all, ensures a security for the patients, without which a children’s hospital could achieve little. ……………..”

2. We Take A Walk Through The Hospital (College St) – 1946

Author Unknown.  An article that appeared in the “Alumnae News“, 1946

Sketch of 67 College St

Those of you who have been away from the hospital for a few years, or even for a few months, would probably like to take a trip around the old homestead, and see a few of the changes.  (Note: Author refers to staff returning from overseas after the War)

Here we are at the switchboard, which has been enlarged and requires a third operator.  On being interviewed, Mrs. Groves emphasized the handicaps under which they had been working and their pleasure in the added equipment.  She feels that it will soon be possible for the operators to be consistently pleasant and efficient in serving the hospital.  Another improvement is the installation of a light system here for the staff doctors, so that now you have an answer to that question “Is there a doctor in the house?”  We also found out that if you call Ad. 9401, and get a busy signal, it means that 22 “trunks” or lines into the hospital, are busy.

From the front door we can see 82, 84 and 86 College Street — three new residences which have been added to H.S.C. in the last two years.  86 College, just by way of getting our bearings, used to be Dr. Goldie’s office.

All that the Operating Room could find in the way of a change was an improvement in the linen situation, and an almost complete change of the nursing staff.  The students look forward with enthusiasm to their experience in this department.  Miss Balcom, who is in charge, is a graduate of the Toronto General Hospital, and was with the R.C.A.M.C. with the 15th General in Africa and Italy during World War II and was honoured with the A.R.R.C. for her services in charge of the O.R. during that period.

Baby Surgical has changed remarkably since the nursery school started.  There is an article elsewhere in this issue about this but we can’t resist pointing out here and now, that the days of gathering up an armful of draw sheets and changing every bed in the long ward are over.  And can you imagine all the children settled for the night at six?

Along the hall is one of the offices of the Visual Education Department, which is still in its experimental stages.  Its chief purpose is to provide illustrative material for research and teaching needs, and includes photographs, movies, with or without animated drawings, sketches of operative procedures or pathological conditions and so on.  Any service may call on the staff of this department (which is composed of an artist and photographer and secretary) for a permanent visual record to be made of some aspect of their work.

We are passing Ward J which has just been redecorated in a very delicate shade of green.

Miss Martin, in charge of the Private Floor, practically refused to be interviewed as she was contemplating doing some involved research on the advisability vs. the possibility of using double-decker beds for the tonsillectomy patients, thus stretching the bed capacity even further!

Boys’ surgical, in Mrs. Clifford’s charge, is as lively as ever.  Room #6 is now being used for clean surgical infants, and #8 seems to be more or less reserved for chest surgery and the odd blue baby.

Miss Bernardo has returned from the Crippled Children’s Society and is again in charge of Girls’ surgical.  We understand that various ideas for the new hospital are to be tried out on this ward.

That ‘nice cream colour’ which has long been the stand-by of the painters, has given way to delicate pastel shades wherever recent re-decorating is evident.  Boys’ and Girls’ Medical wards have been painted a soft green with grey and white corridors.  The whole effect is light and cheerful.  These wards have been divided into three services with Dr. Boyd, Dr. J. Keith, and Dr. Chute each in charge of one of the services.  Dr. Silverthorne is the Consulting Physician, and all problems of administration are referred to him, and he is also the consultant for the interns.  We have heard – via the grapevine – that special certificates of durability and resiliency, are to be given to head nurses who survive past a reasonable period on these wards.  They live through staff rounds every day now, as well as meeting the demands of three staff doctors, five interns, and the general ward situations of the day.

The X-Ray Department presents a triumph of mind over matter, for they have built a series of offices right out of nowhere!  We will give you a hint how this was done by telling you that the view from the roof of the nurses’ residence now includes still another little box-like affair stuck on to the back of the hospital.  These offices are definitely superior and were planned for Dr. Munn, the Radiologist, his assistant, the chief Surgeon and the Consulting Physicians and include room for the secretaries too.  New x-ray equipment has been installed in Dr. Rolph’s old office.  Dr. Rolph retired last fall.  We are glad to see him again when he visits the children from time to time, and we suspect that he slips them the occasional candy!

A visit to the store will show that Mr. Fry is still looking after our supplies.  Mr. Fry has been here for 55 years and now feels better than ever.  Mrs. Graham in the Dispensary, says that it is because she talked him into taking extra vitamins this winter.  Talking of the dispensary, Archie has retired after 36 years with the hospital.

We’d like to tell you that the O.P.D. has been installed in spacious quarters, but it just isn’t so.  However it is being redecorated, and also boasts of an appointment system, as you’ll be reading about elsewhere in this magazine.  Miss Drury, who has been in the orthopaedic department for 26 years, has retired.

The Infant Ward cubicles have been painted a delicate peachy pink and a pale blue, with halls of white and grey.  The ward has been divided into three units, with a head nurse in charge of each.  There are many advantages to these smaller units, a minor one being that the nurse is saved frantic trips around the ward looking for a certain ‘blue’ or ‘red’ baby while a staff doctor stands impatiently waving his stethoscope.  The large cubicles are partitioned off between each cot.

Anybody here will be glad to show off their new equipment to you, such as the Emerson Resuscitator or the Armstrong Incubators.

The Infectious Ward is as functional in design as ever, but certainly far prettier.  It also has been redecorated this winter and the cubicles painted in a light blue with the occasional pink one, and the halls are in ivory.

As we walk about we notice a number of our graduates who have returned to help us out.  Mrs. Cunningham ‘ 15, Miss O’Hara ’09, and Mrs. Fullerton ’06, have been particularly faithful.

The tunnel may bring forth a sigh of relief from you for no change here – trucks, empty beds, and the T.S.O. still shutting the locker doors.  However a peek inside the laundry will show you some new equipment, and it is now less essential to know the right people to obtain a few draw sheets.

Here you are – back at the front door.  Goodbye! And we will see you at the next Alumnae Meeting won’t we?

1. New Sights and Scenes at HSC – 1941 – Lucy Ashton

A tongue in cheek article from the Alumnae News in 1941 by L. Ashton

67 College Street

The old building still stands (67 College Street), but many changes take place within.  The square inch alley-way (between the tunnel and the laundry) you remember as you passed by, catching a glimpse of a dying O2 tent?  This has now been magically changed to a central supply room, and will be in working order by the time you read this.  Ruth Gaw, class Sept ‘ 31, has come back to take charge.  She has visited every hospital in Toronto that boasts of a central supply room.  By the reams of data, the detailed questions, and those horrible lists she is always giving us to fill out, we should, in the near future, have “The Model Central Supply Room.”

The Admitting Room – always noted for its spaciousness – has given up its History Room, and Mrs. Wright has donated her west wall to the worthy cause – yes, a “Blood Bank.”  Helen Anderson, class March, ’30, has bidden farewell to Thistletown and is joining our ranks – official capacity: “H.S.C’s No. 1 Bloodhound.”

Miss Grindlay, last spring, gave her old 2 ½ office as a present to Dr Alan Brown.  Now, magically built on the top of nothing, and reached by a door from the S.S.O., is her very nice, cozy new office.  Why not call and pay her a visit, and see it for yourself?

The Wards have tried to keep in style.  Many of the Service Rooms and pantries are in the newest pastel green.  We have tried to give each bed an extended vacation in Montreal, ostensibly for the purpose of being painted a beautiful daffodil yellow (returned nearer a putty brown).  Oh well, they seem to chip quite well!  Slight mixing of the parts renders the sides of the cribs incapable of being raised or lowered!

The Head Nurse’s desk no longer acts as the centre of a huddle at charting time.  Stretched behind it is a wall desk, ample room for three.  Also, the interns for quite a time have had one of their own – but they still prefer to sit in the Head Nurse’s chair!

Many of the Wards have new bed-trays – – sturdy yellow models that fit nicely over the kiddies’ knees.  The two-year-olds like to sit in them.  The only trouble here is that we haven’t nearly enough.  Say, that’s an idea for you, Dear Reader, a few donations would be gratefully received.