Then + Now

From the start, our hospital set out to provide the very best care possible for children. Throughout the years and still to this day, our community has generously supported that goal, making possible tremendous advancements in child health care and research.

The 5 Alberta Children's Hospitals throughout the century.

THEN: Our first hospital opened as the Junior Red Cross Children’s Hospital in 1922. Primarily an orthopedic hospital to help children with polio, it had 35 beds and was staffed by volunteer physicians. On average, children would stay in hospital for two months or more with strict, once a week, visiting hours for parents only. It was not uncommon for children with polio to be in hospital for years.

NOW: Built with support from the community and recognized as a world-class pediatric healthcare facility, more than 100,000 children and their families rely on the Alberta Children’s Hospital every year. Multi-disciplinary care for children is provided through inpatient units and 90 specialized clinics ranging from Asthma to Vision. Private rooms with bright windows and a sleeping space for parents makes overnight hospital stays more comfortable for everyone.

Innovative care from the mid 1900s vs the 2000

THEN: Children flew to Calgary from across the country because our children’s hospital was pioneering orthopedic surgeries to help kids with polio.

NOW: That innovative mindset and lead-edge care continue to this day. Alberta Children’s Hospital specialists are national and international leaders on many fronts, including using their expertise in bone marrow transplantation to cure children like Denis of Sickle Cell Disease.

Diagnostic Imaging from the mid 1900s vs the 2000

THEN: The number of diagnostic imaging techniques were limited in the early days of children’s health care.

NOW: Community support has helped to fund a wide range of state-of-the-art imaging technology, including the hospital’s first CT and MRI scanners. In addition to making diagnosis for children more precise, imaging technology is helping advance medicine through research. Today, Alberta Children’s Hospital scientists are conducting ground-breaking work to help children with conditions such as stroke, concussion, depression, and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Fresh air and sunshine for patients from the mid 1900s vs the 2000

THEN: In the early days of the Alberta Children’s Hospital, doctors and nurses recognized the value of fresh air and sunshine. Children with tuberculosis were prescribed heliotherapy – sun exposure – as a form of medical treatment in the backyard of the hospital.

NOW: Patients and families continue to benefit from being outside in the many community-funded healing gardens and recreational spaces surrounding the hospital. Rehabilitation specialists turn physiotherapy into games for kids in the hospital’s “backyard” outfitted with an accessible playground, tree house, race track and putting green.


Photos provided courtesy of Alberta Health Services Archives & Historic Collections and the Glenbow Archives.

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