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Past paediatricians-in-chief

Dr. Allen Baines

Allen Baines was chosen as the first Physician-in-Chief at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), a post he held from 1913-1919. He was followed by  Alan Brown who held this post from 1919-1951. Brown was one of Canada’s first physicians to be well-trained in the diseases of infants and children. He had studied at Babies Hospital in New York and several paediatric centres in Europe including Munich, Berlin, and Vienna. Brown's influence is still very evident today. He transformed SickKids into an outstanding paediatric institution and he trained many young physicians who assumed leadership positions in paediatric hospitals throughout Canada. He was committed to decreasing the high mortality common to infants and children and was eminently successful because of his attention to detail, outstanding clinical skills, particularly in the field of nutrition, and above all his uncanny ability to select and nurture the hospital's future paediatric leaders. Brown seemed to personally supervise all aspects of patient care and if a Quality Assurance Committee existed at that time, he would surely have been its champion and chairman.

555 University in 1951

By the mid 1940s, SickKids could no longer meet the increasing patient demands. In 1951, a new hospital was opened on University Avenue less than 100 metres from the site of the original building which had been vacated 76 years earlier. This new SickKids originally consisted of 632 beds which was expanded to 810 beds with the construction of the Gerrard and Elm Street extensions.

As a result of the efforts of Brown and other leading Canadian paediatricians, The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (R.C.P.S.) of Canada recognized Paediatrics as a separate freestanding medical specialty in 1937. However, likely as a result of World War II, the first certifying examination in Paediatrics was not held until 1946. The training program and certification examinations were, and continue to be, structured for consultant paediatricians.

Dr. Laurence Chute

Laurence Chute was appointed as the Physician-in-Chief following Brown’s retirement. In view of the R.C.P.S.’s recognition of Paediatrics as a separate specialty, on September 10 ,1952, Dr. Chute recommended to SickKids' Medical Advisory Committee that the name of his position at SickKids should be changed from Physician-in-Chief to Paediatrician-in-Chief. Throughout his appointment, Chute also held the position of "Head of the Department of Paediatrics" at the University of Toronto. He carried on the fine tradition of Alan Brown and introduced contemporary paediatrics to the new institution, including more liberal visiting hours and greater interaction with parents. Chute served during the era of the introduction of antibiotics and helped to pave the way for the creation of subspecialties within the field of Paediatrics.

Dr. Harry Bain

Harry Bain was appointed as the next Paediatrician-in-Chief at SickKids in 1966 and is also the first individual designated as the University of Toronto's Chairman of Paediatrics. He developed an exemplary training program for consultant paediatricians and attracted scores of bright young paediatricians to join his department. It was during Bain's term that SickKids Foundation was established in 1973. The primary purpose of the Foundation was the support of research activities in the field of child health in Canada. The remarkable foresight of the Board of Trustees of SickKids and individuals like Bain led directly to the establishment of the Research Institute and all the noteworthy scientific discoveries which have subsequently followed.

Dr. David Carver

David Carver followed Harry Bain in 1976. He was recruited from Johns Hopkins University where he had established an international reputation as a paediatric virologist, particularly in the field of hepatitis. Carver recruited many outstanding paediatric subspecialists, reflecting the rapid advances in medical knowledge and an increasing ability to successfully treat complex paediatric illnesses. Excellence in clinical care and both clinical and basic research flourished, thus greatly enhancing the academic prominence of the hospital and the Department of Paediatrics. By this time, SickKids and the University of Toronto had begun a "Canadian" approach to academic leadership. To enhance the process of renewal and a continuous infusion of new ideas, successful candidates for the Chair of Paediatrics and Paediatrician-in-Chief are granted five-year term appointments. This contrasts with non-time limited appointments in the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Dr. Robert Haslam

Robert Haslam, a Canadian paediatric neurologist and previous Chairman of Paediatrics at the University of Calgary, became the Chairman of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto and the Paediatrician-in-Chief at SickKids in 1986. Through key appointments and a keen personal interest, he enhanced both undergraduate and postgraduate training in Paediatrics. During the latter part of his second of two five-year terms, significant changes in health care strategies, combined with restricted growth in health care funding, resulted in marked changes for the hospital and the department. Under his leadership, the funding for the Department of Paediatrics switched from a fee for service basis to Canada’s first Alternative Payment Plan for an academic Department of Paediatrics. During the same period, the number of Paediatric Residents were significantly reduced. As well, the number of active inpatient beds at SickKids decreased from well over 500 to approximately 300 as there was increased emphasis on the ambulatory outpatient management of paediatric illnesses. Inpatient care developed an increased focus on tertiary and quaternary paediatric illnesses.