Alberta Children’s Hospital 100 years of hope and healing

The Alberta Children's Hospital started as an orthopedic hospital to help kids with polio

Alberta Children's Hospital celebrated 100 years of hope and healing on June 29, 2022 in Calgary. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION HAJAR AL KHOUZAII/LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Alberta Children’s Hospital (ACH) celebrated the century mark in Calgary on Wednesday.

ACH first opened the Junior Red Cross Hospital on May 17, 1922. It’s evolved into the colourful building on the hill in northwest Calgary that opened in 2006.

The Alberta Children’s Hospital started as an orthopedic hospital to help children with polio. The original hospital had 35 beds and was staffed by volunteer physicians.

“This hospital along with the care, education and research that we provide has such a rich and proud history,” said the ACH registered nurse and senior operating officer, Margaret Fullerton.

“One constant that has remained the same throughout the last century is the commitment of our community to the health and well-being of its children.”

According to Fullerton, ACH was built with support from the community and is now recognized as a world-class pediatric healthcare facility.

“It’s incredible to see how far we’ve come. Back then, there were certainly no in-house physicians and we certainly weren’t documenting our visits on a computer,” said pediatrician and facility medical director, Dr. Jennifer Macpherson.

Range of care stretching through 90 specialized clinics

More than 100,000 children and their families rely on the ACH every year.

Multi-disciplinary care for children is provided through inpatient units and 90 specialized clinics ranging from asthma to vision.

According to Professor Emeritus Dr. Ian Mitchell, in the past, children flew to Calgary from across the country because the children’s hospital was pioneering orthopedic surgeries to help kids with polio.

“We’re celebrating 100 years, and I hope we’re looking forward to the next 100 years,” said Mitchell.

“The story I’m telling you is about that continuing commitment to children and young people of Calgary.”

Fullerton also recalled past hospital funding, and thanked the Government of Alberta and the community for its support.

“The successes of the Alberta Children’s Hospital and our journey to continue the landscape of health care for young people in our community could not happen without a strong partnership with a government that truly believes and supports the health of its youngest residents,” said Fullerton.

ACH future is ‘promising’: Minister

The Minister of Advanced Education, Demetrios Nicolaides said Calgarians are lucky to have ACH. It has an “incredible” staff, administrators as well donors and community supporters who make the institution an incredible success.

Nicolaides also spoke of the importance of government and community support for ACH. He said he learned of no government funding for the facility in the past.

“I wonder how the hospital operated and how they could’ve succeeded without the significant help of government,” he said.

According to Nicolaides, ACH has been providing the finest health care to younger Albertans. He said it’s important to recognize the people who contributed to its success. It’s equally important to remember the patients who have benefited from its care.

“The future of the Alberta Children’s Hospital is incredibly promising,” said Nicolaides.

“I am confident and comforted in knowing that our children will continue to receive the very best care possible.”

Advances in care

Mauro Chies, president and CEO (Interim) of Alberta Health Services, talked about the patient-centered care advances in the past 100 years.

According to Chies, one specific program allows pediatric cancer patients to benefit from hospital-level care right from the comfort of their homes.

Former patient, Zak Madell, said the hospital does a tremendous job for both local children and those from abroad.

According to Madell, even the colours of the hospital play a major role in kids’ well-being.

“Having something that’s so bright, sunlit, colorful and looking like Lego, distracts the kids from some of the stress and trauma that’s going on around them, and put’s a smile on their face,” he said.

Madell spoke of his experience as a patient. He recalled how lucky he was to be taken care of at ACH. Madell said he wishes the same for current patients.

“I want them to know, they’re in the best hands they possibly could be and wish them all the best moving forward,” said Madell.

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