The Hospital for Sick Children

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For the hospital in London formerly known as the Hospital for Sick Children, see Great Ormond Street Hospital. For the hospitals in Scotland formerly known as the Hospital for Sick Children, see Royal Hospital for Sick Children.
"Sick Kids" redirects here. For the hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland, see Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh.
The Hospital for Sick Children
Hsc c1160.jpg
The Hospital for Sick Children from University Avenue
The Hospital for Sick Children is located in Toronto
The Hospital for Sick Children
Location in Toronto
Location Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Coordinates 43°39′26″N 79°23′19″W / 43.6571°N 79.3885°W / 43.6571; -79.3885Coordinates: 43°39′26″N 79°23′19″W / 43.6571°N 79.3885°W / 43.6571; -79.3885
Care system Public Medicare (Canada) (OHIP)
Funding Public hospital
Hospital type Specialist
Affiliated university University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine
Emergency department Level I trauma center
Helipad TC LID: CNW8
Beds 370
Speciality Children's Hospital
Founded 1875
Lists Hospitals in Canada

The Hospital for Sick Children, also known as SickKids, is a major paediatric hospital located on University Avenue in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. SickKids is part of the city’s Discovery District and is a teaching hospital affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

SickKids has built an integrated environment of patient care, research and learning. Nine centres within the hospital specialize in bone health, brain and behaviour, cancer, cystic fibrosis, heart, pain, image-guided care, genetic medicine, and transplantation. In 2009–2010, SickKids admitted 14,000 in-patients who stayed for an average of 7.1 days. The operating room treated 11,000 cases; there were 58,000 visits to the emergency department and 215,000 visits to the hospital’s ambulatory clinics. SickKids has about 370 beds and provides the highest level of complex and specialized paediatric family-centred care.[1]

The SickKids Research Institute is the largest child health research institute in Canada. It employs almost 2,000 people, or a quarter of the SickKids workforce. The Research Institute is known for its groundbreaking research in stem cells, childhood cancer, cystic fibrosis and other diseases, and is home to the Database of Genomic Variations, known as the Toronto Database.[2]

The Learning Institute was established in 2007 to support all forms of learning, from formal training of health-care workers, to the education of patients and families and the transfer of knowledge to the community. SickKids shares its knowledge globally through SickKids International.[3]

In 1972,[4] the hospital was equipped with a rooftop helipad (CNW8).[5] It is one of two downtown Toronto hospitals with a helipad (the other being St. Michael's Hospital) and one of three in Toronto (the third being at Sunnybrook Hospital).


Initiatives at SickKids have included:

  • The Ontario Poison Control Centre
  • Motherisk, launched by Gideon Koren in 1985
  • Safe Kids Canada
  • The electronic Child Health Network of Ontario
  • AboutKidsHealth.

SickKids Corporate Ventures facilitates the transfer of knowledge developed by physicians, scientists and professionals into products and programs. Its 130 licences for intellectual property technologies generate about $2 million annually.[6]

SickKids Research Institute is a group of scientists under the leadership of Dr. Janet Rossant, Chief of Research. They will all be housed under one roof in The SickKids Research & Learning Tower. Construction of the 21-storey building started in 2010 and is scheduled for completion in 2013. The $400-million project is supported by Canada Foundation for Innovation, a $200-million fundraising campaign led by SickKids Foundation, and long-term borrowing.[7] In January 2014, The Hospital for Sick Kids was recognized by Expertscape as #2 worldwide for expertise in Kawasaki disease.[8]


Victoria Hospital for Sick Children, now the headquarters of Canadian Blood Services
Nurse and orderly transporting a child on a stretcher to the operating room, c. 1915
Atrium of the Hospital for Sick Children. Designed by Eberhard Zeidler.
Entrance at Gerrard & University Ave.

1875Elizabeth McMaster and several other women from Toronto set up a children's hospital on Avenue Road. Starting in April the hospital admitted forty-four patients and treated sixty-seven as outpatients.[9]

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, on the grounds where Canadian star Mary Pickford's childhood home once stood.[9] 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.

1883 – The hospital opened the first fresh air sanitarium in Toronto, and likely Canada, for the treatment of tuberculosis and other ailments.[10]

1892 – A school was opened. This is the first time a school has been set up within a hospital.[10]

1908 – SickKids installed the first milk pasteurization plant in Canada and leads the fight for compulsory pasteurization.[11]

1918 – First research laboratory at SickKids was established. In the 1930s, the laboratory enriches milk with Vitamin D to combat rickets that plagues many of the patients admitted to the hospital.[11]

1919 – SickKids pioneered blood transfusion for children.[11]

1930Frederick Tisdall, Theodore Drake and Alan Brown invented the pre-cooked cereal, Pablum, which provided infants with nutrition and generated funds for establishment of SickKids Research Institute in 1954.[12]

1963 – Dr. William Thornton Mustard developed the Mustard procedure used to help correct heart problems in blue babies.[13]

1973 – SickKids Foundation was established to raise funds for SickKids.[13]

1979 – Dr. Robert B. Salter invented continuous passive motion used for reconstructive joint surgery.[14]

1980-1981 – A series of baby deaths at the hospital prompt a 1984 royal commission of inquiry under Justice Samuel Grange[15] but attempts to hold staff criminally responsible for the deaths ultimately failed.[16]

1989 – The gene responsible for cystic fibrosis, cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator, was discovered by Dr. Tsui Lap-chee and other SickKids scientists. Although a cure for CF has not been found, the life span of CF patients has since improved considerably.[14]

1996 – A team led by Dr. Lori J. West conducted the first intentional ABO-incompatible heart transplant in infants.[17] As a result, mortality for infants on the heart transplantation waiting list at SickKids would be cut from 58% to 7% in the study group,[18] with the results published in a seminal 2001 study.[19]

1997 – The Congenital Heart Surgeons' Society Data Center, a US-based organization, was established at SickKids.[20] Almost 6000 patients with congenital heart disease have been enrolled in various research studies leading to many improvements in care of such patients worldwide.

1998The Centre for Applied Genomics was established with Tsui Lap-chee as director and Stephen W. Scherer as associate director.[14]

2007 – Mondial Energy Inc. (now known as GEMCO Solar) installed the first hospital-based solar thermal energy system on the rooftop of SickKids Hospital. The system is used to heat up the hospital’s hot water supply for domestic use, reducing energy costs.[21]

2009 – SickKids researchers identified eight genes, which, when mutated, cause medulloblastoma, the most common childhood brain cancer. In 2010, the disease was identified as four distinctly different strains that can be treated in different ways.[22][23]

2010 – SickKids partnered with Hamad Medical Corporation and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital to advise on the creation of a state-of-the-art children’s hospital in Doha, Qatar.[24]

2013 – "HSC Research and Development Limited," a legal entity controlled by SickKids in Toronto, was one of multiple patent holders suing to prevent introduction of a less-expensive generic version of a test for susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancers.[25]


Medical treatments at SickKids are largely covered by publicly funded health insurance (Medicare and Ontario Health Insurance Plan), as is the case in all Canadian hospitals.

Philanthropy is a critical source of funding for SickKids, separate from the funding received from government and granting agencies.[26]

In 2011/2012, SickKids Foundation spent $61.3 million. Of that amount, the Foundation granted $59.3 million directly to the hospital and $2 million to national, international and other initiatives.[27]


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. ^ At a Glance: Care, SickKids website, Annual Report 2009-10, accessed November 21, 2010.
  2. ^ At a Glance: Research, SickKids website, Annual Report 2009-10, accessed November 21, 2010.
  3. ^ At a Glance: Learning, SickKids website, Annual Report 2009-10, accessed November 21, 2010.
  4. ^ "Opened first hospital rooftop heliport for emergency transfer of patients (1972)". Retrieved 2013-06-08. 
  5. ^ Canada Flight Supplement. Effective 0901Z 24 July 2014 to 0901Z 18 September 2014
  6. ^ SickKids - Corporate Ventures, About Us, accessed November 21, 2010.
  7. ^ "To Give". SickKids Foundation Annual Report, 2009-10. p.4-5.
  8. ^ "Expertscape: Kawasaki disease, January 2014". January 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  9. ^ a b "SickKids History". Hospital for Sick Children. 2005-12-15. Archived from the original on 2006-09-08. Retrieved 2006-09-14. 
  10. ^ a b Hospital - About SickKids - History and milestones - Milestones - 1875–1900, accessed November 21, 2010.
  11. ^ a b c Hospital - About SickKids - History and milestones - Milestones - 1901–1925, accessed November 21, 2010.
  12. ^ Hospital - About SickKids - History and milestones - Milestones - 1926–1950, accessed November 21, 2010.
  13. ^ a b Hospital - About SickKids - History and milestones - Milestones - 1951–1975, accessed November 21, 2010.
  14. ^ a b c Hospital - About SickKids - History and milestones - Milestones - 1976–2000, accessed November 21, 2010.
  15. ^ Justice Samuel Grange. "Report Of The Royal Commission Of Inquiry Into Certain Deaths At The Hospital For Sick Children And Related Matters. : Ontario.". Retrieved 2013-06-08. 
  16. ^ Brian Bethune (December 22, 2011). "The baby killer at Toronto’s Sick Kids was rubber: The real culprit for a wave of deaths in the early 1980s was a compound found in seals on IVs and syringes". Maclean's. 
  17. ^ Klein, A. A., Lewis, C. J., & Madsen, J. C. (2011). Organ Transplantation: A Clinical Guide. p.116. Cambridge University Press.
  18. ^ West, L. J., Pollock-Barziv, S. M., Dipchand, A. I., Lee, K.-J. J., Cardella, C. J., Benson, L. N., et al. (2001). ABO-incompatible (ABOi) heart transplantation in infants. New England Journal of Medicine, 344(11), 793–800. doi:10.1056/NEJM200103153441102
  19. ^ Everitt, M. D., Donaldson, A. E., Casper, T. C., Stehlik, J., Hawkins, J. A., Tani, L. Y., et al. (2009). Effect of ABO-incompatible listing on infant heart transplant waitlist outcomes: analysis of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database. The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, 28(12), 1254–1260. doi:10.1016/j.healun.2009.06.024
  20. ^ The Congenital Heart Surgeons Society Data Center: unique attributes as a research organization
  21. ^ Hospital - About SickKids - Past News - Canada’s first hospital-based solar thermal energy site to be installed at SickKids, accessed August 13, 2012.
  22. ^ Genetic research narrows in on cause of childhood brain cancer
  23. ^ Hospital - About SickKids - History and milestones - Milestones - 2000–present, accessed November 21, 2010.
  24. ^ Helping to improve the lives of kids with chronic conditions in the Middle East
  25. ^ "SickKids Hospital dragged into U.S. breast cancer gene suit". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2013-07-18. Retrieved 2013-07-18. 
  26. ^ SickKids Foundation annual report 2011–2012, accessed 12 April 2013.
  27. ^ SickKids Foundation Fact Book 2011–2012. SickKids , 2009–2010. p. 3.

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