Hospital for Sick Children

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Hospital for Sick Children
Atrium of the Hospital for Sick Children.
Designed by Eberhard Zeidler.
Place Toronto, Ontario, (Canada)
Care System Public Medicare (Canada) (OHIP)
Hospital Type Teaching, Specialist
Affiliated University University of Toronto
Emergency Dept. Yes
Beds 265
Founded 1875
Website Homepage
See also Hospitals in Canada

The Hospital for Sick Children, also known as SickKids, is a world-renowned children's hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is a teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto, and it is home to the world's second largest hospital-based paediatric research facility. It was founded in 1875, inspired by the example of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, England. The hospital is located on University Avenue in the city's Discovery District, a block south of Queen's Park near Queen's Park and St. Patrick subway stations.


File:Hsc c1160.jpg
The Hospital for Sick Children from University Avenue.

Medical treatments at SickKids are covered by publicly funded health insurance, as is the case in all Canadian hospitals. Philanthropy is a critical source of funding for SickKids that is separate and distinct from government and granting agencies. In 2006/07, financial support from SickKids Foundation to the hospital totalled $72.1 million. The support went towards infrastructure and support for physicians, researchers and scientists who compete for national and international research grants. Next to government, SickKids Foundation is the largest funding agency in child health research, education and care in Canada. The Foundation maintains a fund, called the Herbie Fund, for patients not covered by Canadian health insurance. The fund was established in 1979 to provide for the treatment of a seven month old patient from Brooklyn, New York named Herbie Quinones.


File:Old Hospital for Sick Children.jpg
Victoria Hospital for Sick Children

During the spring of 1875 a group of Toronto women led by Elizabeth McMaster rented an 11-room house for $320 a year. They set up six iron cots and "declared open a hospital 'for the admission and treatment of all sick children.'" Their first patient, a scalding victim named Maggie, came in on April 3. Forty-four patients were admitted to the Hospital in its first year of operation and sixty-seven others were treated in outpatient clinics.[1]

In 1876 the hospital moved to larger facilities. In 1891 the hospital moved from rented premises to a building constructed for it at College and Elizabeth streets where it would remain for sixty years. This old building, known as the Victoria Hospital for Sick Children is now the Toronto area headquarters of Canadian Blood Services. In 1951 the hospital moved to its present University Avenue location. The hospital underwent its last major expansion in 1993 with the construction of a glass-roofed atrium on the east side of the main building.

Infant deaths

In 1981, tests indicated that as many as 43 babies in the cardiac ward were poisoned by deliberate administration of massive overdoses of the drug digoxin. This prompted an investigation by the Toronto police. Susan Nelles, a nurse scheduled on duty at the time of several of the deaths, was arrested and charged with first degree murder of four of the babies and she was on duty when 23 suspicious deaths occurred. During the same time frame Nelles was alleged to have murdered four babies, a total of 24 babies had died on the cardiac ward in suspiciously similar circumstances, but when she was not on duty. The digoxin deaths stopped after Nelles was arrested, but stricter policies on administrating drugs in the ward were also put in place. Charges against Nelles were thrown out at a preliminary hearing after it was revealed that she was not on duty when one of the four babies died. A Royal Commission, the Grange Inquiry, on the deaths concluded at least eight infants had been murdered and suspicion fell on another nurse. As of 2005, only Nelles was charged with a crime involving the baby deaths.[2]

A book on the case, Death Shift: The Digoxin Murders at Sick Kids was written by Ted Bessland.

Contributions to medicine

The hospital was an early leader in the fields of food safety and nutrition. In 1908 a Pasteurization facility for milk was established at the hospital. Researchers at the hospital invented the infant cereal, Pablum. The research that led to the discovery of Insulin took place nearby at the University of Toronto and was soon applied at the hospital. Doctor Frederick Banting, one of the researchers, had served his internship at SickKids and went on to become an attending physician there. In 1991, Dr Arlette Lefebvre founded Ability Online, an online community for ill and disabled children and their families.

Recent events

In 2004, doctors at SickKids helped save the life of 10-year-old Djamshid Popal from Afghanistan by treating his heart problem, after the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario diagnosed his illness and referred this patient.[3]

On September, 2007, researchers discovered that one man's genes show DNA remains a mystery, since the first detailed map of a man's genes shows the genetic code more complex than studied. Human science as of now, cannot predict what makes a person's eyes blue. Genome entrepreneur Craig Venter's own DNA map shows 4.1 million places where his genetic code is different from the basic "reference" human genome. Researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Maryland, along with teams at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and the University of California San Diego, studied Venter's genetic code and compared it with the rival human genome maps (published in 2001 by Venter's private company and the Human Genome Project). Researchers aimed to discover if the risk for disease could be known just by looking at the genes.[4]


Braithwaite, Max (1974). Sick Kids; the story of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. ISBN 0-7710-1636-0.


  1. "SickKids History". Hospital for Sick Children. 2005-12-15. Retrieved 2006-09-14. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. Ontario. Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Certain Deaths at the Hospital for Sick Children and Related Matters . Toronto: Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, 1984. (Commissioner: Samuel G. M. Grange). ISBN 0774399686 (pbk.)
  3. "Healthy Djamshid Popal heads home to Afghanistan". CTV. 2004-11-27. Retrieved 2006-09-14. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. Reuters, One man's genes show DNA is still a mystery

External links

Template:Toronto teaching hospitals

Coordinates: 43.657704° N 79.389321° W